BEETHOVEN: Bagatelles and Dances, Vol. 3 (Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.553799)
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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Bagatelles and Dances,Volume 3
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in1770, the son of a singer in the chapel of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne,of which his grandfather had been Kapellmeister. In due course Beethovenfollowed family example and entered the service of the court, as a keyboard-and string-player, to be sent by the Archbishop to Vienna for lessons withMozart, but recalled to Bonn by the illness of his mother. At her death heassumed responsibility for his two younger brothers, through the inadequacy ofhis father, now pensioned off by the court.
In 1792 Beethoven returned to Vienna forlessons, at first, with Haydn, whom he had met in Bonn. He profited more,however, from lessons in counterpoint with Albrechtsberger and from theintroductions he brought with him from Bonn, which ensured a favourablereception from leading members of the nobility. His patrons, over the years,acted towards him with extraordinary forbearance and generosity, tolerating hisincreasing eccentricities. These were accentuated by his increasing deafnessfrom the turn of the century and the necessity of abandoning his career as avirtuoso pianist in favour of a concentration on composition.
During the following 25 years Beethovendeveloped his powers as a composer. His early compositions had reflected theinfluences of the age, but in the new century he began to enlarge the inherentpossibilities of classical forms, experimenting with new forms of orchestraland keyboard music that offered a challenge to the succeeding generation, afterhis death in 1827.
The Rondo a Capriccio in G major, Opus129, published only after Beethoven' s death, bore the title, in the handof the composer's unpaid and sometimes unreliable assistant Anton Schindler, DieWuth ??ber den verloren Groschen, ausgetobt in einer Caprice (The rage overthe lost penny, worked off in a caprice).
Beethoven's own title was Allaingharese quasi un capriccio (In Hungarian style, as a caprice). Writtenbetween 1795 and 1798, the rondo, after its very familiar principal theme,includes episodes in G minor and E major and considerable development of thefirst theme and was completed for publication by an unknown arranger after thecomposer's death.
Beethoven had come to Vienna armed withrecommendations to various member of the nobility from Count Waldstein, aparticularly well-connected nobleman who had been inducted into the TeutonicOrder in Bonn and was on close terms with the Archbishop-Elector 1804 broughtthe composition of the work that bears Waldstein's name, the Sonata in Cmajor, Opus 53, the Waldstein Sonata. According to Beethoven'spupil Ferdinand Ries, the son of a former musician colleague in Bonn, someonesuggested that the sonata with its original slow movement was too long, anotion that Beethoven at first rejected but subsequently accepted. As a resultthe Andante in F major, WoO 57, was replaced by a much shorter Introductionto the final rondo of the sonata. Ries tells how he heard Beethoven play theAndante and how he repeated what he remembered of it to PrinceLichnowsky. The latter, on a visit to Beethoven, played a joke on him byclaiming to have written a new composition and then playing to him what he hadheard of Beethoven's original Andante. After this Ries claims that hehimself was excluded from any private hearing of Beethoven's new compositions.
The movement is mentioned in the spring of 1805 in letters from Beethoven toCountess Josephine Deym (nee Brunsvik), his former pupil, at a time when theirrelationship was giving her sisters some cause for anxiety. With the first oftwo letters Beethoven sends her a work he describes as 'your Andante' and 'thesonata', and in the second asks for the Andante and two songs he hadsent her back again. The request seems explained by a note to Ries asking himto make a quick copy of 'this Andante' , possibly the same movement. Itwas, in any case, published in September of that year and frequently performedby the composer, to whose style of performance it was well suited, with itssinging principal melody.
Dance music for balls in Vienna was oftenprovided by major composers. This, after all, had been Mozart's only officialfunction at the court of Joseph II, and in 1792 Haydn had provided a set of dancesfor the Artists' Society Ball. Between 1795 and 1797 in particular Beethovencontributed his own sets of dances for various groups of instruments, some ofwhich have survived in piano versions made by the composer, a useful additionto domestic repertoire of the time. The Deutsche (German Dance) was aforerunner of the waltz, a dance that gradually assumed popularity and even adegree of sophistication in the new century.
Beethoven's Rondo in C major,Opus 51, No.1, was written in 1796 and published by Artaria in thefollowing year. Marked Moderato e grazioso, it offers a principal themein characteristic singing style, contrasted in particular with a more dramaticC minor episode, after which the main theme returns in various guises. The Rondoin G major, Opus 51, No.2, was written in 1798 and publishedin 1802 with a dedication to Countess Henriette von Lichnowsky, sister of thecomposer's patron, The work had apparently been given first to Countess JuliaGuicciardi, a young cousin of Countess Josephine Deym, but exchanged for the MoonlightSonata, dedicated to the former in 1802. With the opening direction Andantecantabile e grazioso, the rondo contains an E major episode of greaterbrilliance and further contrast before the final varied return of the maintheme. The Rondo in A major, WoO 49, was written in 1783, when Beethovenwas twelve, and was published in Neue Blumenlese f??r Klavierliebhaber in1784. It is, as might be expected, in a much simpler style and includes achance for some youthful display in its second, D major episode.
Beethoven wrote his set of TwelveMinuets, WoO 7, for performance at the ball of the Artists' Society on22"' November 1795 and Artaria published the dances in a version for thepiano in the same year. In their orchestral version they were played in thesmaller ball-room of the Redoutensaal, while Mozart's pupil S??ssmayr providedthe dance music for the larger room. The commission for music for this occasionis evidence of the high standing which Beethoven already had in Vienna afteronly three years in the city.
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando has wona number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize inthe 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber musiccategory at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. He has recordedfor Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart. Other recordings forthe Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well asRachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's completepiano sonatas.