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BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5 (Bela Drahos/ Ibolya Toth/ Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia) (Naxos: 8.553476)



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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770- 1827)



Symphony No.2 in D major, Opus 36



Symphony No.5 in C minor, Opus 67



 



Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770, the son ofa singer in the employment of the Elector of Cologne and, rather moreimportant, the grandson of the former Kapellmeister of the Electoral chapel, aman of some distinction. Beethoven's childhood was overshadowed, however, bythe inadequacy and drunkenness of his father, which made it necessary for him finallyto take charge of the family. He was to continue attempts to control the affairsof his younger brothers in later life, to their obvious resentment.



 



Beethoven showed early ability as a musician and wasemployed as a musician by the Archbishop-Elector, who was responsible forencouraging him to go to Vienna, where he settled in 1792, taking lessons fromHaydn, and, more profitably, from the new Kapellmeister of St. Stephen'sCathedral, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, and from the Imperial Kapellmeister,Antonio Salieri. In Vienna he was able to establish himself, through theintroductions he brought with him, as a virtuoso pianist and as a startlinglyoriginal composer.



 



In spite of increasing deafness, which put an end to hiscareer as a performer and made conducting a hazardous process, Beethovensucceeded in developing his genius as a composer in a completely original way,relying on the support of a patient series of friends and patrons, who providedmoral and financial assistance, in spite of Beethoven's touchy ingratitude andgrowing eccentricity.



With Beethoven, in fact, there is the beginning of apossibility of heroic independence for the composer, who is no longerconsidered a court craftsman. His music, uneven as it can be, expands thedimensions of those classical forms that had become established by the end ofthe eighteenth century, attempting, sometimes, the impossible, and seeming tosome of his successors to have achieved a summit beyond which no furtherdevelopment was possible. To Wagner, for example, the Ninth Symphony

seemed a height from which only he, the self-appointed successor of Beethoven,could climb further, by means of music-drama. To Schumann, on the other hand,it seemed that Brahms represented a second coming of Beethoven, a prophecy thatwas at the root of much of that composer's later diffidence.



 



In Bonn, among fifty or so compositions, Beethoven had alreadyattempted two symphonies, a C minor work and another in C major, but these hadnever been completed. In Vienna most of his first compositions were related tohis own needs as a performer, and apart from the two first piano concertos, hiswriting for orchestra was limited to less substantial forms. It was not until 1800that his first symphony was completed. It was to be published the followingyear with a dedication to Baron van Swieten, a man whose taste had hadconsiderable influence, in one way or another, on both Haydn and Mozart.



 



The second of Beethoven's nine symphonies was completedin 1802, a year of particular importance in the composer's life. It was in thesummer of that year that Beethoven had eventually come to terms with thetragedy of his increasing deafness, a resignation to the irony of fate that isdocumented in the so-called Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothersin which he declares his new-found resolution and patience, forced, as he says,to become a philosopher in his twenty-eighth year.



 



The Symphony No.2 in D major, Opus 36, wasprobably finished at the village of Heiligenstadt, outside Vienna, whereBeethoven, on his doctor's advice, was resting. The work is scored for pairs offlutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with strings,the kind of forces that the Vienna



Court Opera had for some years been able to provide. Itwas first performed privately in April, 1803, under the composer's directionand is dedicated to



Prince Karl Lichnowsky, to whose patience and generosityhe continued to be indebted.



 



Beethoven's Symphony No.5 in C minor, Opus 67, isa work that has enjoyed enormous popularity, not least for its patrioticassociations that accord well with the period of its composition and haveproved to suit the sensibilities of later generations. For some the work hasbecome known as Fate, as the result of an alleged remark of the composer,reported by the unreliable Schindler, on the opening of the first movement - ThusFate knocks at the door. It has been left for others to point out that there isplenty of evidence for similar knocking at doors in other compositions byBeethoven, the initial rhythmic figure being one that he found to his purposeon other occasions.



 



Beethoven composed music relatively slowly and carefully,and the early sketches for the C minor Symphony are found in notebooksof 1804, the period of the Eroica Symphony. The work was completed in1808 and dedicated to Count Razumovsky, Prince Lichnowsky's brother-in-law, theTsar's representative in Vienna and a patron of great munificence, while hismoney lasted, and to Prince Lobkowitz. It received its first performance at aconcert on 22nd December, 1808. The taxing programme, that resulted in near disasterin the final Choral Fantasia, included the Pastoral Symphony andthe Fourth Piano Concerto, as well as a number of items for soloists andchorus. It seems that the Fifth Symphony was at first intended, like theFourth, for Count Franz von Oppersdorff, from whom the composercertainly received some payment. By September of the year of its completion,however, Beethoven had sold it to the publishers Breitkopf and Hartel. Inorchestration the Fifth Symphony shows innovations in its inclusion ofthe piccolo, the double bassoon and three trombones in the final movement.



 





Facts
Item number 8553476
Barcode 730099447621
Release date 01/01/2000
Category Orchestral | Classical Music
Label Naxos Classics | Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Composers Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductors Bela Drahos
Orchestras Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Producers Ibolya Toth
Disc: 1
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
1 Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
2 Larghetto
3 Scherzo: Allegro
4 Allegro molto
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
5 I. Allegro con brio
6 Andante con moto
7 Allegro
8 Allegro
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