Beethoven Klaviersonaten

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Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:49 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 8:50 am
Belle wrote:I take all your points
And I take yours. If you don't find Rosen's way of thinking useful or persuasive, that's that.

What I've responded to, and will again, is your finding faults in "The Classical Style" that aren't really there - and I think you've done it again. "I totally disagree with any similarity between Beethoven's late works and either Haydn or Mozart. All used 'motivic development' as a foundation principle for their 'classical' art, but that's where the similarity ends." Rosen doesn't claim that Beethoven's late works imitate Haydn or Mozart (the early works certainly do, as he says), but that like them Beethoven composed in the Classical style, or putting it the other way around, that the Classical style encompasses not only them but Beethoven too. One element is "the equilibrium between harmonic and thematic development," which Rosen explains (among much else) in the early section titled "The Coherence of the Musical Language," so he doesn't need to go through it all again when he gets to Beethoven. (As for the organization of the book, the outlline summaries of each part in the table of contents make it clear enough, at least to me.)

Of course if one has a different conception of the Classical style than Rosen's, and wants to consider Beethoven as a Romantic breaking all the Classical rules (as some of his contemporaries did), one has plenty of company. But from our perspective 200 years later, it looks different than it did in the early 19th century. At least it does to me.
Thanks for your comments.

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:50 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:50 am
Image

Charles Rosen's complete Columbia and Epic recordings were recently reissued on CD, and they are very informative to the musical mind, if you can still find a copy somewhere. Rosen's playing is not up to the technical demands of the Beethoven Op. 111, for example, but in other works he's crystal clear and very satisfying. I would not rank him as a great pianist (like Brendel, who also both played and wrote about music), but Rosen is very appealing and warm in his manner and tone quality.

Good luck with your lecture, Belle.
Thanks for the heads up on that and your good wishes, Maestrob!! I'll be giving it 'a red hot go' (as they say in Australia) on Thursday. :D

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:55 pm

CharmNewton wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:54 pm
Belle wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:08 pm
I've got a question. Can anybody help, please? My G. Henle Verlag score of Beethoven's Op. 2/1 has a repeat marking at the end of the first movement back to Bar 19 (the development). That doesn't seem to be observed in any of the recordings or the analyses I've encountered. Can anybody tell me, therefore, why that repeat is there in the score?
My Kalmus Edition (likewise Urtext) also has the repeat of the development and recapitulation in the first movement. Beethoven repeats these sections in the fourth movement of Op. 2/1 as well.

Richard Goode's recording observes the repeat in the first movement but not the one in the fourth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUiPi-xWwuI

The first movement ends with a sort of "that's it" finality that might make the repeat sound out of place. Perhaps the key is the fermata over the rest on the last beat of the measure, as if Beethoven is asking for the music to die down a bit before going back. If you wait long enough, it could even be taken as a musical joke of sorts as in "I can't believe he's doing that."

BTW, Op.2/2 also has a development and recapitulation repeat in the first movement. Goode doesn't take the repeat this time.

John
Thanks so much for this!! I listened to the Goode and I don't think the repeat works - because there's a codetta right there at the end of the first movement, delaying the final cadence. This just cannot work with a repeat; we will have heard it before and assume it's part of the development/recapitulation. It isn't. And that 4th movement is just tremendous! I can't wait to play it to the audience on Thursday; it anticipates the "Appassionata" just so much and those "knock, knock, knock; hear-me-roar" chords. I just love it. (I don't like Barenboim's slightly 'rubbery' tempo with the motifs at bars 5-8. There's no 'rit' there. Kovacevich doesn't do it!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnwAeVNdZmU

Thanks everyone, so much, for all your contributions to this. They will be acknowledged on Thursday!! Just so you know.

Rach3
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Rach3 » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:07 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:21 pm
Boulez sonatas anyone?

No , thanks.

I have Idil Biret's Naxos cd of all 3. Pollini did a Carnegie recital a few years ago in which the final (!! ) work was # 2.

John F
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by John F » Sun Jul 29, 2018 3:46 am

Belle, good luck with the show! With all the preparation and thinking you've done, I'm sure it will go well.
John Francis

John F
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by John F » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:09 pm

Belle, I hope your lecture went well. Too late for that, but I'm sure your interest in the Beethoven piano sonatas hasn't run out, :) I've been reading Kenneth Drake's "The Beethoven Sonatas and the Creative Experience," and this caught my attention:
Kenneth Drake wrote:The fp over the opening chord of the "Pathetique", separating a single sound into two dynamic levels, is an orchestral effect, as befits a piano sonata with symphonic pretensions. (The subtitle is, after all, "Grande Sonate Pathetique.") Since piano sound once produced cannot be altered, the effect is comparable to splitting a musical atom to release its emotional force. No other sonata of the thirty-two begins in just this manner, the fp chord like the reeling of consciousness before a tragic situation. Although possible with an immediate release of the chord synchronized with a quick pedal change, the effect is also risky. Instead of a diminished C-minor chord, the player may be left with no sound at all. We cannot be certain that the composer himself would have tried to produce this explosive/muffled effect, although, if Schindler's memory was accurate, Beethoven held the chord until it had all but died away before continuing.
A fp for a sustained note is not Beethoven's only unidiomatic, one could say orchestral, effect in his piano sonatas. In at least 2 sonatas he calls for a crescendo on a sustained note.
Kenneth Drake wrote:A crescendo over a held note, an orchestral effect that is impossible on the piano, resembles straining to enunciate a thought for which there are no words. The sole means of conveying this to the listener is a slight delaying of the louder note (as in op. 7, IV, mm. 62-4 and op. 81a, I, mm. 252-3).
I'll leave it at that for now. Drake's book is published by Indiana University Press, (c) 1994.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:04 pm

Thank you for that. I'll get the book from the university library because I'm presenting the second part of my program - the mid to late sonatas (concentrating on the latter) in November. We had some equipment problems on Thursday which left me very annoyed, so I had to truncate the Sonata No. 15. Opus 28, "Pastorale". But the second movement, Andante, most of them didn't know about!! I stopped there and a friend said, "that last sonata was a bit of a revelation; I've played some of these sonatas and didn't know about this one or his first sonata". He really listens too!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN-z8ZQXEQw

Some of the audience are very knowledgeable; one an Ethnomusicologist, and some are piano teachers. I started by asking some questions about cooking and what mental images were conjured when we said "cake". What is a cake and can it be defined so that all can agree? What were the 'basic' ingredients and, in fact, are there 'basic' ingredients? They answered the questions and it became a useful metaphor to describe Sonata Form and what we might have understood that to be as early 19th century listeners. I went on to explain that Beethoven not only altered the shape of the cake tin but he combined ingredients in such a way that this was a cake nobody had tasted before. For the later sonatas and string quartets that 'cake' became 'inedible' for some because of its unusual textures and flavours.

A bit later, I also used an analogy with the written word and our experiences of a poem, a piece of prose, a Shakespearean sonnet and how these are all different. The cadence being, of course, the 'full stop' and the piano sonatas as 'narratives of drama, forged through the tonic and dominant axes - until Beethoven decided to use different 'grammar', such as the Mediant and Sub-Mediant'. Actually, I think there's an incredibly strong nexus between written language and music and I want to explore that further at some point from next year.

At the end of the presentation I asked for 'any questions' and a friend said, "a little more enthusiasm would be welcome". :lol:

And you're obviously a class act, John, putting that quote in your comments.

John F
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by John F » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:13 am

Too bad about the "technical difficulties," which presumably will be fixed by the time of your Part 2.

From what you say, I think you'll get a lot out of Drake's book. He tells much about the extramusical sources of Beethoven's inspiration as reported by Czerny and Schindler and inferred by himself. The book is at the library and I'm not, but on Monday I'll post another sample for what it may be worth.

Analogies between music and the spoken or written language are tempting, but can only be taken so far. Music has a syntax, though it's not the same as in language, but it has no lexicon, or a very limited one. From what you say, your focus will be on syntax, and that should pass with any philosophers in your group. :)
John Francis

CharmNewton
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by CharmNewton » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:09 am

Professor Drake visited the University of Illinois at Chicago c. 1971 where he gave a lecture and performed Beethoven on a Broadwood piano from, I believe, the 1850s. This was pretty novel back then. I remember seeing him preparing his piano before his lecture and delighted in the warm and intimate sound it produced. He mentioned that an instruction like una corda was lost on the modern piano. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend his recital.

He made a couple of LPs of Beethoven sonatas and other works, which he also sold at the recital. While not professional productions, they were good enough to convey the sound produced by this historical piano. An interesting scholar and performer.

John

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:24 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:13 am
Too bad about the "technical difficulties," which presumably will be fixed by the time of your Part 2.

From what you say, I think you'll get a lot out of Drake's book. He tells much about the extramusical sources of Beethoven's inspiration as reported by Czerny and Schindler and inferred by himself. The book is at the library and I'm not, but on Monday I'll post another sample for what it may be worth.

Analogies between music and the spoken or written language are tempting, but can only be taken so far. Music has a syntax, though it's not the same as in language, but it has no lexicon, or a very limited one. From what you say, your focus will be on syntax, and that should pass with any philosophers in your group. :)
It would be good to see more comments from Professor Drake; thanks for that. I will try and get the book myself shortly.

With the music and language analogy I'm interested (inter alia) in cadences as 'full stops', thematic or motivic 'voltas', caesura (fermata), 'narrative' arcs in the tonic and dominant relationships and also musical 'rhetoric' - specific effects, eg. 'tremolo' in the Beethoven piano sonatas to give it an 'orchestral' quality, the use of 'sighs' (Bernstein called them 'dying falls'), lyrical motifs associated with a particular feeling or quality, etc. and which cues listeners. All those devices we might also find in language, which are primarily designed to alert readers and listeners that they may 'read between the lines' of a text. As well, other devices like motivic 'question' and 'answer' in Beethoven sonatas. We all know these tropes and musical and linguistic 'memes' (to use the modern parlance) and these are used in both the written and spoken word as much as in music.

Something along those lines. My reasoning in so doing is to alert audiences to the fact that we have discrete cognitive information which informs our listening and reading expectations and HOW these can be re-configured and/or subverted - often to the confusion of the listener, both then and now. Form and function, let's say.

jbuck919
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:52 pm

All urtexts show what Beethoven actually wrote. It is, I will skip an impolite word for it, performers who fail to observe them. As Claudio Arrau said when asked about observing repeats in Beethoven, there is one rule only. One always takes the repeats in Beethoven. Or as a college professor of mine said, you don't mess around with number one.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by John F » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:49 pm

I'm afraid it's not so simple. For Beethoven's piano sonatas there are usually several authoritative sources, and the editor even of a Urtext edition has to make many choices between variant readings, resulting in a collated musical text different from any that Beethoven ever saw. As for repeats, I was shocked the first time I heard the first movement exposition repeat in the Eroica Symphony, the lead-back bars are so crummy, and I never want to hear them again. Beethoven played none of his piano sonatas in public; those he played them for privately, mainly Czerny and Schindler, disagree on how he played them; I'll see if there's any first-hand information about Beethoven's practice with repeats.
John Francis

John F
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by John F » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:56 pm

Relating to the various themes in your last post, here's Czerny on the opening of the sonata op. 31 no. 3, quoted by Drake:
Carl Czerny wrote:This sonata is more in a style of conversation than of portrayal and differs from the elegiac-romantic character of the preceding sonata through its witty serenity. The beginning is like a question, to which the answer follows in the seventh measure, for which reason it must exhibit a certain indecisiveness in tempo and expression that first after the fermata, and preferably from the sixteenth measure on, yields to a resolute execution.
This rhetorical quality in the music, question and answer, is pretty obvious and not uncommon in other music by other composers; we don't need Czerny to tell us about it, but it's still worth having his comment to confirm that this is how the music was understood in Beethoven's time, and since Czerny was so close to Beethoven, possibly by Beethoven himself.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:26 pm

Today I've been listening to the earliest sonatas again, in preparation for my second lecture - this time on the mid-late period sonatas. I'm listening out for signposts in these earlier works to the late sonatas and, by god, I'm hearing them - especially in Op. 2/3. What an absolute joy that sonata is and I've just read Swafford's comments about the triple trills at the end. The Adagio has definite signposts to the later, metaphysical elements of those final piano sonatas. It's the staggering invention of the material which slaps you in the face when you're reading the score. (I'm listening to Kovacevich and I notice he's often not observing the 'p' after a tumultuous ff!!) Now left/now right-hand - tossing the melodic ideas between both; now this key/now the next and blistering runs through 'foreign' harmonies through accidentals which only give hints at remote harmonic areas. On and on - without repetition or anything remotely dull.

I'd like to be able to show my group, during my next lecture, how Beethoven built his works from the simplest materials; one or two-note ideas, chords, etc. But many of them can't read music. When teaching I realized that 'visual learners' could be provided with 'evidence' in the forms of charts, graphs, etc. and I'm wondering how to transpose this to music. It would prove a powerful point and not just be abstract talk.

But, listen to me; I've got people due here right now for afternoon tea and my head is full of Beethoven!! Isn't everybody's???

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Klaviersonaten

Post by Belle » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:44 am

This wonderful sonata has been my companion this evening, but played by Kovacevich. This one by Richard Goode is also excellent: the last bars of the final movement always bring me to my knees.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxFZg5g4DTE

I've been reading Swafford's tome on Beethoven ("Anguish and Triumph") and it's got really interesting things to say about unequal temperament and the 'understandings' about the character and qualities of certain keys, which I'll post in the next day or so. It actually made a lot of sense to me with regard to Beethoven.

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