Beethoven at 240

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Long before movements like minimalism, rap, or punk — which do a lot with a little — there was Beethoven, the preeminent master of musical efficiency. This week, All Ears celebrates LvB’s ability to create large-scale works from a few modest musical ideas. Peering though this lens, Terrance includes Steve Reich's Proverb and Duke Ellington's C Jam Blues, both longer pieces that get serious musical mileage from small musical cells.

In the midst of revolutionizing the western music canon (while going deaf), LvB also brought the scherzo form into prominence in the 1790's, eventually replacing the minuet. To honor this contribution, Terrance scherzos his way through Brahms, Ives, Stravinsky, and Moravec.


Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Op 28 "Pastoral",  Andante
Ludwig van Beethoven
Vox Classics

Pizz Hocket
Mary Ellen Childs
Cornelius Dufallo,violin
Ralph Farris, viola
Dorothy Lawson, cello
Mary Rowell, violin

String Sextet No. 2 in G, Op. 36: II. Scherzo (Allegretto)
Johannes Brahms
Alban Berg Quartet

Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier": II. Scherzo - Assai Vivace
Ludwig van Beethoven

Xiao Yue Er Gao ("High Little Moon")
Chinese Traditional
Wu Man, pipa
Smithsonian Folkways

Paul Moravec
Trio Solisti

25 Irish Songs, WoO 152, No. 3: Once More I Hail Thee
Ludwig van Beethoven
Christopher Maltman, baritone
Malcom Martineau, piano
Marieke Blankestijn, violin
Ursula Smith, cello

F-A-E Sonata: Scherzo in C Minor
Johannes Brahms
Vanessa-Mae, violin
Pamela Nicholson, piano

Steve Reich
Paul Hillier, conductor
Steve Reich Ensemble

C Jam Blues
Edward K. (Duke) Ellington
Mulgrew Miller, piano
Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, bass
Bang & Olufsen

Road Movies
John Adams
Jennifer Koh, violin
Reiko Uchida, piano

Scherzo: Holding Your Own
Charles Ives
Kronos Quartet

Scherzo "a la Russe"
Igor Stravinsky
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Bernard Haitink, conductor

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson
William Chapman Nyaho, piano

Symphony No. 9 "Choral": Scherzo
Ludwig van Beethoven
London Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink, conductor
LSO Live

Andante for Piano ('Andante Favori') in F, WOO 57

Ludwig van Beethoven
Claudio Arrau, piano


Comments [3]

Michael Meltzer

I do a keyboard joke that no doubt has ocurred to others as well.
I announce that Beethoven was the first minimalist, and start playing the "Waldstein," but continue the opening repeated C-major triad for four or five measures. It's always good for a few snickers, but you see, that's not really what Beethoven does.

Dec. 18 2010 12:43 PM
Michael Meltzer

Beethoven was not unique in developing large works fron tiny morsels, Bach and Brahms did that quite well. You might say that Beethoven was less adept at disguising the fact. Brahms was quite proud of his intermezzi sounding like rhapsodic improvisations, but if you take a pencil to one and start tracing motivic development, it looks like a 1960's IBM wiring diagram.
The serialists picked up that ball again, to a fault. It is wrong to associate Beethoven with the minimalists, who don't really develp anything, they just repeat things and morph them a little.

Dec. 18 2010 11:38 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane

Their constructions within the conventional formats that extend the options, the possibilities, beyond the perimeters artificially set by previous composers, give new life and excite the imagination. And open up new vistas for others to explore. Beethoven's anti-tyrant hero Florestan in "Fidelio," Puccini's hero, in a police state, Cavaradossi in "La Tosca," Giordano's political French revolution hero Andrea Chenier in the opera of the same number, ALL are three-dimensional personages. Beethoven, in real life, opposed royalty and dictatorial leaders like Napoleon Bonaparte, and in his "Chorale Symphony"; and "Fidelio" he aptly presents the case for freedom and the brotherhood of mankind, womankind understood.

Dec. 18 2010 09:47 AM

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