Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Performance date: 29/06/2010
Venue: St. Brendan’s Church
Composition Year: 1796
Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category:Piano Quartet/Piano Quintet
Instrumentation Other: pf, ob, cl, hn, bn
Bram Van Sambeek -
Hervé Joulain - [horn]
Jörg Widmann - [clarinet]
Nicolas Daniel - [oboe]
Philippe Cassard - [piano]
Everything about this comparatively early work by Beethoven speaks
on the one hand of his love and admiration of Mozart and on the other hand of
his determination to match him head to head. Beethoven took as a template Mozart’s perfect Quintet for the same
instruments K.452 and set about trying to equal his great predecessor. Mozart
had subtly interwoven the piano part amongst the winds, so Beethoven sets piano
against the winds almost as if he was writing a concerto for piano and winds.
So although wrapped in very similar outer clothing, we end up with a different
beast – a mature masterpiece versus youthful brio and freshness with
Beethoven’s character stamped all over his work.
Like Mozart, Beethoven opens with a
majestic slow introduction that sets the serious mood of the work. Beethoven
then gives the announcement of the Allegro’s cantabile main theme to his own instrument
before taking it up with the winds with the clarinet in dominating mood, the
second theme is introduced in a similar manner and the substantial exposition
is repeated. The development picks up on the exposition’s final cadence and
launches straight into a stormy C minor followed by a series of wind dialogues
against rippling figures from the piano. The movement eventually ends with a
substantial coda with anarchic contributions from the horn.
The Andante’ Rondo theme is again introduced by the piano
before the winds join in. The first episode opens with a delicious duet for
oboe and bassoon, while the second one features a noble horn solo. Wonderful in
this movement is the way the focus shifts seamlessly from instrument to
The finale is a
bouncy hunting Rondo in 6/8 time. With the exception of one truculent episode
in E flat minor, the mood is one of unrestrained exuberance right down to the
teasing coda with its flamboyant conclusion. Pure pleasure.
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