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BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6

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Ludwig van Beethoven(1770-1827)

Symphony No. 5 in CMinor, Op. 67

Symphony No. 6 in FMajor "Pastoral", Op. 68

Beethoven wrote ninesymphonies, the first heralding the new century, in 1800, and the lastcompleted in 1824. Although he made few changes to the composition of theorchestra itself, adding, when occasion demanded, one or two instruments morenormally found in the opera-house, he expanded vastly the tradition al form,developed in the time of Haydn and Mozart, reflecting the personal and politicalstruggles of a period of immense change and turbulence. To his contemporarieshe seemed an inimitable original, but to a number of his successors he seemedto have expanded the symphony to an intimidating extent.

Beethoven's Symphonyin C minor, Opus 67, is a work that has enjoyed enormous popularity, notleast for its patriotic associations that accord well with the period of itscomposition and have proved to suit the sensibilities of later generations. Forsome the work has become known as Fate, as the result of an alleged remark ofthe composer, reported by the unreliable Schindler, on the opening of the firstmovement - Thus Fate knocks at the door. It has been left for others to pointout that there is plenty of evidence for similar knocking at doors in othercompositions by Beethoven, the initial rhythmic figure being one that he foundto his purpose on other occasions.

Beethoven composedmusic relatively slowly and carefully, and the early sketches for the C minor Symphonyare found in notebooks of 1804, the period of the Eroica Symphony. Thework was completed in 1808 and dedicated to Count Razumovsky, PrinceLichnowsky's brother-in-law, the Tsar's representative in Vienna and a patronof great munificence, while his money lasted, and to Prince Lobkowitz. Itreceived its first performance at a concert on 22nd December, 1808. The taxingprogramme, that resulted in near disaster in the final Choral Fantasia, includedthe Pastoral Symphony and the Fourth Piano Concerto, as well as anumber of items for soloists and chorus.

It seems that the FifthSymphony was at first intended, like the Fourth, for Count Franz vonOppersdorff, from whom the composer certainly received some payment. BySeptember of the year of its completion, however, Beethoven had sold it to thepublishers Breitkopf and Hartel. In orchestration the Fifth Symphony showsinnovations in its inclusion of the piccolo, the double bassoon and threetrombones in the final movement.

The sixth ofBeethoven's nine symphonies, the Pastoral, was first performed at aconcert in Vienna in December 1808. The occasion was an important one for thecomposer, since it was likely to prove the only significant source of incomefor him that year. In preparation for the event he had put aside work on his projectedopera Macbeth and on the alternative text of Bradamante, both supplied byHeinrich von Collin, and assembled a programme of phenomenal length. The worksplayed included the Fifth Symphony, the Fourth Piano Concerto, apiano fantasia, items for soloists and chorus and, in conclusion, a Fantasiafor the Pianoforte which ends with the gradual entrance of the entireorchestra and the introduction of the choruses as a finale, the ChoralFantasia.

Predictably theconcert was an embarrassment to Beethoven's friends, compelled to sit for fourhours in the bitterly cold Theater-an-der-Wien. As one otherwise sympatheticobserver reported, it proved possible to have too much of a good thing, andstill more of a loud. The concert was under-rehearsed, and Beethoven had metconsiderable opposition from members of the orchestra. In the ChoralFantasia instructions about repeats had been misunderstood, so that thework had to be started again, and Beethoven intervened with audible comments onmistakes. Nevertheless the Sixth Symphony, which happily opened theconcert, was well enough received, in spite of its unusual length.

The advertisement forBeethoven's December concert billed the Pastoral Symphony as ARecollection of Country Life, to be described by the composer, in a carefulattempt to dispel any suspicion that he had written a crude imitation ofnature, as more an expression of feeling than tone-painting. In some ways thework may be seen as a conclusion and summary of a tradition of music inspiredby the country, although the Wordsworthian suggestion of emotion recollected intranquillity is very much of its period.

Item number 8554061
Barcode 636943406120
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Symphony
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Beethoven, Ludwig van
Beethoven, Ludwig van
Conductors Drahos, Bela
Drahos, Bela
Orchestras Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Producers Toth, Ibolya
Toth, Ibolya
Disc: 1
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral"
1 Allegro con brio
2 Andante con moto
3 Allegro
4 Allegro
5 Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf
6 Szene am Bach: Andante molto mosso
7 Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute: Allegro
8 Gewitter, Sturm: Allegro
9 Hirtengesang: Frohe und dankbare Gefuhle nach dem
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