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#431626 - 12/26/07 11:31 PM Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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pianoloverus Offline
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First I was watching the Kennedy Center Honors on TV. As part of the tribute to Leon Fleisher one of his students, Jonathan Biss, performed the Beethoven Choral Fantasy.

OK, I know this piece is at least occasionally performed. The only time I've heard it live NYC in many years of concert going was in a New Year's Eve concert(along with the 5 regular Beethoven concerti!) conducted by Jens Nygaard. Why do you think this piece is relatively seldom performed? To me, it is a great work even if it is perhaps not on same plane as the 5 concerti.

Then at 10:30, I switched to radio for Dubal's Reflections from the Keyboard. One of the encores was Gregory Ginsburg's transcription of Largo al factotum dells citta from The Barber of Seville.

I had never heard a performance of this piece live on on recording but it seems to me it would make a sure fire encore. I wonder if anyone has heard a perfomace of this work and what do you think of it?

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#431627 - 12/26/07 11:44 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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8ude Offline
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I think it's rarely performed because (a) it is somewhat of an oddity of Beethoven's, and (b) it takes a decent amount of orchestral forces to pull it off. Why perform this work when it is much easier and cheaper to perform one of his concertos - no chorus is necessary.

But I agree - it should definitely be performed more. I love this work - I love how it starts with a very free piano solo, very improvisatory, which is what Beethoven the pianist was renowned for. Then add in the orchestra, and finally the chorus - beautiful...

Too bad they cut out the entire middle section in this particular performance, but I guess they had to fit within time constraints...


What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.
#431628 - 12/26/07 11:55 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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The only Ginsburg transcription of the Rossini that I've seen is Figaro's first act aria, "Largo al Factotum della citta", marked Allegro vivace.

Largo al Factotum della citta

Click on No.4


Mel


"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. You give because you love and cannot help giving." Katharine Hepburn
#431629 - 12/27/07 01:37 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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Jonathan Biss is AWESOME! I've only heard his recordings on radio before, but seeing him play the Choral Fantasy on TV was a real treat. I love his musicality and TONE!!


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#431630 - 12/27/07 02:00 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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Quote
Originally posted by 8ude:
I think it's rarely performed because (a) it is somewhat of an oddity of Beethoven's, and (b) it takes a decent amount of orchestral forces to pull it off.
8ude has it right here. I love the Choral Fantasy very much, but unless the chorus is all volunteer, unlikely it will be done live except within a festival environment.

An older book on piano music -forget which- spoke disparagingly of Beethoven's "oddity", but thankfully those days are past. Recall too, at one time Beethoven's Op 19 Concerto was considered an inferior composition.

Amazing that such a delectable piece was once given a miss. Even the mature genius of Beethoven's late cadenza was cause for gripe. Some early recordings used alternate cadenzas (more so than the other concertos)... who would do that today?

Ah, but Alkan's outrageous cadenza to the 3rd deserves a hearing. :p


Jason
#431631 - 12/27/07 07:03 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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Quote
Originally posted by dannylux:
The only Ginsburg transcription of the Rossini that I've seen is Figaro's first act aria, "Largo al Factotum della citta", marked Allegro vivace.

Largo al Factotum della citta

Click on No.4


Mel
Yes! that's the one. I'll add the name in my original post.

#431632 - 12/27/07 07:51 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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JBiegel Offline
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I have performed this with the Fourth Concerto. It's a neat work. Since I asked William Bolcom to compose a new Choral Fantasy for me for 2010-11, and several orchestras are co-commissioning it, it may well be paired up with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, which will give the Beethoven more play.

#431633 - 12/27/07 10:09 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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signa Offline
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i have Aimard CD with that Choral Fantasy, and i thought Aimard is definitely much better than Biss. i do love the piano entry part of the piece.

#431634 - 12/27/07 01:48 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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I saw the program, too, and am really glad Leon Fleisher got the award. I was also really glad Yo Yo Ma made a special mention of Fleisher's transcendent recording of the Brahms First Piano Concerto made with the Cleveland Orchestra and conducted by George Szell.

Having said that, after hearing the Choral Fantasy performed again last night, I, for one, am extremely glad that it is not performed more often.


She was with me even in my grave
When the last of my friends turned away,
And she sang like the first storm heaven gave.
Or as if flowers were having their say.

- Anna Akhmatova, "Music"(Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)
#431635 - 12/27/07 02:04 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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AndrewG Offline
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Kissin performed Choral Fantasy with Karajan on one of the New Year's Eve concert and it was documented on DG DVD. Me too. I think this piece sits where it belongs. I do not miss it being performed publicly.

As to Leon Fleisher he deserved to be remembered like the award he received last night. Indeed both Brahms piano concerti recorded by him and Szell are outstanding readings in every sense, IMHO.

#431636 - 12/27/07 02:55 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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The Choral Fantasy is a great piece. I played it a few years ago and it was a blast. I read that Beethoven was planning on adding a piano solo to the last movement of the Ninth Symphony, but he thought that it would be redundant seeing as how he did it in the Choral Fantasy. The motives are similar between the two pieces, though.

#431637 - 12/27/07 04:43 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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Quote
Originally posted by Brendan:
I read that Beethoven was planning on adding a piano solo to the last movement of the Ninth Symphony...
Not to doubt your typical integrity in posting here, but can you cite that particular source? I've read a fair amount about Beethoven, and I've never come across any indication that he considered using a piano in the 9th Sym. confused


Jason
#431638 - 12/27/07 08:32 PM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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I think I read it in a set of program notes (by Jonathan Kramer) when I heard my teacher play it - let me see if I can find it somewhere.

#431639 - 12/28/07 07:18 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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Janus K. Sachs Offline
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Betelgeuse, baby!
I also absolutely love the Choral Fantasy. As stated by others, I think logistics is the only reason why it's not performed more often. However, it was originally composed to be a big finale to a concert where a choral work and a piano concerto (C major mass and the G major concerto, I think?) were performed, and Beethoven wanted a suitably big finale to the concert. It would be great if one could construct a similar program with the Choral Fantasy as the finale -- such as Abbado's New Year's Concert (on CD) with the Egmont incidental music being the first half (and Ah! Perfido also in the program). Incidentally, that is also my favorite recording of the Choral Fantasy (Kissin being the pianist, though the Serkin/Bernstein recording is also incredible).
I haven't heard what Brendan mentioned about the Ninth Symphony, but some writers have speculated that Beethoven's original opening improvisation to the Choral Fantasy must've been considerably longer than the published opening cadenza (partly because of the use of the word "finale" at the initial entrance of the orchestra).
P.S.: Re.: symphonies with piano, there's that wonderful late symphony by Haydn (can't remember which) where the piano appears out of nowhere for a solo near the very end of the finale. Goes to show you how Haydn hadn't completely abandonned continuo in symphonies!


Die Krebs gehn zurücke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

Die Predigt hat g'fallen.
Sie bleiben wie alle.
#431640 - 12/28/07 10:51 AM Re: Two works I heard tonight that should be played more  
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8ude Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Janus Sachs:
However, it was originally composed to be a big finale to a concert where a choral work and a piano concerto (C major mass and the G major concerto, I think?) were performed, and Beethoven wanted a suitably big finale to the concert.
If I recall correctly, the concert in question had the 5th and 6th symphonies, portions of the C-major mass, the 4th piano concerto, Ah Perfido, and the Chorale Fantasy. Quite a concert!!! And I think you're right - Beethoven wrote the Fantasy in such haste that I don't think he even bothered to write down the opening solo - I think he just improvised it on the spot and then wrote it down later - so the work we're familiar with may be quite different from that original performance.


What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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