Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beethoven Trios, Plus a Bit More on Quartets

Even early in Beethoven's compositional years, (from his move to Vienna in 1792 he was known less as a composer and more as a piano virtuoso, where he sometimes wrecked the poor mostly wood pianos of the days with his thunderous playing) he was able to pull in some nice money with his compositions. For example, his Op. 9 string trios, numbered 1-3, pulled down an advance of 50 ducats from the publisher, Johan Traeg. For comparison, this was about the cost of a grand piano at that time.

The CD in my collection of these trios is performed by the Kandinsky Trio. I've found the combo of string trio to be easier to follow and understand that the quartet (at least, Beethoven's, especially his late ones), even though these trios were composed just a bit before the first Op. 18 quartets. My favorite of the three is the third trio in C minor - which tracks evenly with my preference for minor mode compositions (Hey Mom, do we have gypsy blood in our pedigree?).

Listening again to Robert Greenberg's Great Masters:Beethoven - His Life and Music from The Teaching Company, I was reminded of the pressure Beethoven faced when composing his first quartets. The string quartet was considered a very serious compositional challenge, and was to chamber music what the symphony was for orchestral music. In addition, he had the long shadows of Mozart and the still living creator of the string quartet, Joseph Haydn, looming over his back. His quartets would be compared to these two greats. How would the avante-garde Beethoven assert his style, and yet stay at least somewhat close to the form laid down for all time by Haydn? With various compositional details throughout all these first "Early" quartets Beethoven's style shows up to those who look beneath the surface - for, on the surface, these sound Haydnesque. However, on the sixth quartet, Beethoven stuck in an "extra" movement, entitled La Malinconia.

So, with the understanding that the string quartet has the highest standing in the classical era oeuvre of chamber music, some other combos were composed for amateur. One such combo was the piano trio. The first works that Beethoven had published, his Opus 1, was a set of piano trios. They were debuted at a private salon, with Haydn in the audience. These were not trios for amateurs, unless they were very accomplished players. Haydn was said to be pleased with them, though he thought such complexity should be saved for a string quartet.

Sadly, I don't have a copy of those first piano trios. But they have moved to the top of my "wish" list.

The recording I do have of piano trios is a re-release a 1970 recording, and it features Daniel Barenboim on piano, Pinchas Zukerman on violin, and Jacqueline du Pre on cello. The published work of two trios were labeled Op. 70, but they were the fourth and fifth piano trios Beethoven wrote (again among published works). (The first three were Op. 1). No. 4 in D is subtitled "Ghost", apparently a reference to a phrase in the second movement Beethoven contemplated for setting the Witches' scene from Macbeth. In three movements, the first leaps out at you at the beginning of the opening movement. These bursts are interlaced with some wonderfully lyric music coming from all three instruments. Trio No. 5 has four movements, and I need to spend some time with it to get it into my musical memory databank.

There is also a piano trio from around 1791, predating Beethoven's move to Vienna, that is listed as WoO. 38, where WoO stands for Werk ahne Opuszahl or "Work without an opus number." It is thus designated because it was not published during Beethoven's lifetime. Perhaps this would really be piano trio number one?

Tacked on to the second CD, which leads off with WoO. 38, are two cello sonatas recorded in 1965, with Stephan Kovacevich on piano and Jacqueline du Pre on cello. These are beautiful pieces, with which I want to spend more time as well. du Pre has a special place in my collection which contains her recordings (so what is this recording doing in the Beethoven section? gotta think about that), and though I don't know much about her, there is apparently a special story to her life, which has led to a movie, books, and the like.

Next up are Beethoven's five piano concerti. I'm a bit jazzed at the idea of moving over to some orchestral music.

Incidentally, you've heard me carry on about Robert Greenberg on this blog. If you'd like to spend a pleasant hour, he gave a talk to the Chautauqua Institution, and has posted it here. He's really great, and this talk is typical of his teaching style.


Blogger oakleyses said...

longchamp outlet online, true religion, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet online, red bottom shoes, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet, nike air max, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses, jordan shoes, longchamp handbags, ray ban outlet, prada outlet, coach outlet, christian louboutin, louis vuitton outlet, gucci handbags, coach outlet, oakley vault, cheap oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, nike free, tory burch outlet, nike shoes, coach outlet store online, burberry outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, christian louboutin shoes, true religion outlet, coach purses, michael kors outlet store, kate spade outlet online, prada handbags, longchamp outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton, tiffany jewelry, tiffany and co jewelry, christian louboutin outlet

2:07 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

sac vanessa bruno, nike free, michael kors canada, timberland, michael kors uk, air max, nike air force, air jordan, true religion jeans, ray ban pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, louis vuitton uk, nike air max, sac michael kors, abercrombie and fitch, lacoste pas cher, nike roshe run, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, longchamp, oakley pas cher, nike roshe, mulberry, new balance pas cher, north face pas cher, converse pas cher, hollister, tn pas cher, north face, lululemon, nike blazer pas cher, barbour, ralph lauren, hermes pas cher, nike air max, hollister, sac louis vuitton, chaussure louboutin, nike free pas cher, burberry pas cher, guess pas cher, longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton, scarpe hogan, vans pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, air max pas cher

2:10 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

chi flat iron, mac cosmetics, soccer shoes, jimmy choo shoes, birkin bag, rolex watches, ferragamo shoes, canada goose, vans outlet, instyler ionic styler, uggs outlet, canada goose outlet, soccer jerseys, north face jackets, babyliss pro, wedding dresses, p90x workout, giuseppe zanotti, mcm handbags, ugg outlet, asics shoes, celine handbags, ghd, nike huarache, bottega veneta, insanity workout, abercrombie and fitch, herve leger, ugg boots, nike trainers, ugg soldes, marc jacobs outlet, beats headphones, hollister, mont blanc pens, reebok shoes, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, valentino shoes, longchamp, north face outlet, nfl jerseys, new balance outlet, roshe run, ugg, canada goose outlet, uggs on sale

2:13 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

baseball bats, nike air max, ray ban, parajumpers outlet, toms outlet, timberland shoes, converse shoes, replica watches, moncler, hollister, lancel, moncler, juicy couture outlet, moncler, links of london uk, wedding dress, louis vuitton canada, ugg, vans, moncler, pandora charms, canada goose uk, louboutin, canada goose, oakley, juicy couture outlet, hollister canada, pandora jewelry, moncler outlet, iphone 6 case, ralph lauren, canada goose pas cher, pandora uk, coach outlet, moncler, montre femme, converse, swarovski uk, uggs canada, supra shoes, hollister clothing, karen millen, swarovski jewelry, thomas sabo uk, canada goose, air max, gucci, moncler

2:15 AM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

ninest123 16.04
longchamp pas cher, tiffany jewelry, oakley sunglasses, prada outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, louboutin, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, tory burch outlet, ugg boots, nike free, prada handbags, louis vuitton, replica watches, polo ralph lauren outlet, gucci outlet, longchamp outlet, uggs on sale, ray ban sunglasses, chanel handbags, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors, nike free, polo ralph lauren outlet, air jordan pas cher, sac longchamp, longchamp, louboutin pas cher, louboutin outlet, nike outlet, louis vuitton, nike roshe run, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, burberry, nike air max, air max, jordan shoes, ray ban sunglasses, ralph lauren pas cher, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, replica watches, christian louboutin outlet, nike air max, louboutin shoes, kate spade outlet

10:30 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

nike free run uk, michael kors outlet, lululemon, michael kors, ray ban pas cher, burberry, tn pas cher, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, replica handbags, true religion jeans, nike blazer, coach outlet, nike air max, kate spade handbags, michael kors, michael kors outlet, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet, oakley pas cher, mulberry, true religion outlet, hollister pas cher, hermes, converse pas cher, nike roshe, hogan, ugg boots, coach outlet, hollister, nike air max, vans pas cher, michael kors, nike air max, new balance pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, ray ban uk, true religion jeans, air force, coach purses, timberland, true religion jeans, lacoste pas cher, sac guess, michael kors, north face, michael kors outlet, vanessa bruno, ralph lauren uk, north face

10:32 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

vans shoes, mont blanc, babyliss, nike trainers, ferragamo shoes, nfl jerseys, iphone 6 plus cases, mcm handbags, soccer jerseys, new balance, nike roshe, s5 cases, iphone 6s plus cases, giuseppe zanotti, valentino shoes, p90x workout, instyler, ipad cases, longchamp, asics running shoes, nike air max, celine handbags, mac cosmetics, north face outlet, oakley, reebok shoes, wedding dresses, louboutin, bottega veneta, nike huarache, birkin bag, hollister, iphone 5s cases, timberland boots, hollister, hollister, abercrombie and fitch, north face outlet, chi flat iron, soccer shoes, iphone cases, ralph lauren, herve leger, jimmy choo shoes, baseball bats, insanity workout, ghd, iphone 6 cases, iphone 6s cases, beats by dre, lululemon, nike air max

10:36 PM  
Blogger ninest123 said...

louis vuitton, thomas sabo, wedding dresses, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg pas cher, karen millen, replica watches, ugg boots uk, moncler, louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, marc jacobs, doudoune canada goose, vans, moncler, canada goose, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, louis vuitton, moncler, hollister, lancel, coach outlet, swarovski crystal, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, gucci, links of london, supra shoes, barbour, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, moncler, toms shoes, louis vuitton, moncler, converse outlet, pandora jewelry, barbour jackets, ray ban, canada goose uk, pandora charms, swarovski, canada goose, canada goose outlet, sac louis vuitton pas cher, canada goose, bottes ugg, pandora charms, moncler, moncler outlet, montre pas cher, juicy couture outlet, converse
ninest123 16.04

10:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home