Author Topic: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas  (Read 610662 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4280 on: July 24, 2019, 12:31:03 PM »
As I recall the quote is "What do I care for your puny violin . . ."  - not puking violin.

Puny, puking --- all the same! The idea is the same: HIP be damned!  :laugh:
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Offline George

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4281 on: July 24, 2019, 12:40:35 PM »
Puny, puking --- all the same! The idea is the same: HIP be damned!  :laugh:

While I am no fan of HIP piano recordings, I find puny and puking to be entirely different things. We must have gone to different parties in high school.  ;)
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4282 on: July 24, 2019, 12:51:22 PM »
While I am no fan of HIP piano recordings, I find puny and puking to be entirely different things. We must have gone to different parties in high school.  ;)

Oh, sure! Absolutely different babes!  ;D
"I don’t know why I give preference to Chopin’s works. They always touch me deeply. His music is akin to my soul." --- Milii Balakirev

Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4283 on: July 25, 2019, 01:18:03 AM »
Keyboards simply didn’t have as many keys. THAT is how he was pushing the boundaries of the instrument.

And this whole argument about how you would want different registers is a bit mystifying. It depends entirely on what music you’re wanting to write as to whether is a bug or a feature. Anyone who has ever played an instrument that has different registers, such as a clarinet, knows that the register change can either be used to advantage or a total pain in the butt. Trying to construct a universal rule about it just doesn’t work.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4284 on: July 25, 2019, 01:22:31 AM »
Keyboards simply didn’t have as many keys. THAT is how he was pushing the boundaries of the instrument.

And this whole argument about how you would want different registers is a bit mystifying. It depends entirely on what music you’re wanting to write as to whether is a bug or a feature. Anyone who has ever played an instrument that has different registers, such as a clarinet, knows that the register change can either be used to advantage or a total pain in the butt. Trying to construct a universal rule about it just doesn’t work.

This all sounds very plausible.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4285 on: July 25, 2019, 01:35:42 AM »
This all sounds very plausible.

You keep saying that to people. I’m not sure why.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4286 on: July 25, 2019, 03:04:14 AM »
You keep saying that to people. I’m not sure why.

That all sounds quite plausible.
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4287 on: July 25, 2019, 03:36:58 AM »
Keyboards simply didn’t have as many keys. THAT is how he was pushing the boundaries of the instrument.

This demands a closer explanation. Did he write notes, which weren't available on the keyboards he had at his disposition? Or do we know he complained that the keyboards of his time didn't have enough notes?
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heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4288 on: July 25, 2019, 04:57:23 AM »
This demands a closer explanation. Did he write notes, which weren't available on the keyboards he had at his disposition? Or do we know he complained that the keyboards of his time didn't have enough notes?

I can’t recall which sonata it is but there is at least one where a line descends an octave lower in the recapitulation, halfway through the line, and it’s thought to have been out of necessity.

I’d have to remember where I read about this issue because it’s been a number of years.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4289 on: July 25, 2019, 05:01:43 AM »
But any pianist can see for composers generally, not just Beethoven, the way that composers take advantage of the higher and lower notes once they become available.

Why did they ever become available then? It has to be at least 1 out of 2 reasons and quite plausibly both: either composers asked for them and/or the technology improved to make those notes possible.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4290 on: July 25, 2019, 05:07:19 AM »
This is what Tom Beghin says

Quote
Tilman Skowroneck has reminded us that starting with
the fugue from Opus 106, Beethoven stayed within the six-octave range CC to c4 for all his remaining piano works, including
the Bagatelles written after the receipt of the Broadwood, Opus
119 (starting with No. 6) and Opus 126; the Diabelli Variations,
Opus 120; and the three late Piano Sonatas, Opus 109, 110, and
111.5 There are only two exceptions, two instances of notes that
lie outside the range of the six-octave Broadwood: three high
C-sharps on the last page of Opus 109 and one high E-flat in the
first movement of Opus 111. For the latter note, however, already
in the autograph—that is, the original manuscript—Beethoven
specifies an alternative version, or ossia; it is a remarkable reflex
betraying his own private reality. The high C-sharp in Opus 109
requires more explanation, but just acknowledging this note and
finding the solution to play it spectacularly increases the relevance of the Broadwood for this sonata. I discuss the note below . . .

There is one note in Opus 109 that exceeds the six-octave range of
Beethoven’s Broadwood:16 a high C-sharp that recurs three times
as part of the last variation, at the end of the third movement, just
before the final return of the unadorned cantabile theme (track 3,
10:25–10:41). After having been avoided for so long, this highest
note of the whole sonata (played by my right hand’s pinkie) soars
triumphantly over a long sustained trill (played by the lower fingers of my right hand) and wild scalar flourishes that crisscross
the middle part of the keyboard (played by my full left hand). The
C-sharp is itself part of a note-by-note reminder of the theme
that has been transposed up by two octaves. It functions as a major-second appoggiatura, gorgeously stretching the reach of the
melodic line. But there is no key for it on the Broadwood. What to
do? Leave out the note? Replace it?
Here’s the clincher: Nowhere else in the sonata does Beethoven
write a high C-natural, leaving open at least the option of retuning the high C as a C-sharp. I stress option over obligation, because Beethoven was known to have retorted to a well-meaning colleague, “They all like to tune it, but they shall not touch it” (“it”
in reference to his new Broadwood and “they” to his Viennese
piano-builder friends),17 and visitors had heard him playing on the
instrument despite its wretched tuning, so it seems fair to assume
that the issue of an accurate single pitch would not have been
important at all. The note in question, furthermore, is part of the
highest of registers, which would have been all but impossible for
him to hear.
For Beethoven, then, the discrepancy between imagined and
actual, realized sound could easily be lived with. But also for a
well-hearing person, there is something intensely powerful about
playing a sharp on a key that is supposed to be a natural. It is as
if at that very moment one succeeds, by sheer force of will, in
embodying those highest piano strings (all three of them, for one
key) and making them behave like one’s vocal cords, stretching
what physically still feels like a minor second (one’s fifth finger
gliding to the next key below) to a major-second appoggiatura
(creating a full tone or the equivalent of an additional key in between). The pianist, finding this sublime voice, self-identifies with
the piano in such a way as to transcend technological reality. (An
association with the human voice is entirely warranted: in the autograph of the sonata Beethoven had called the theme Gesang or
“song”—but changed this indication to gesangvoll, “singingly,” by
the first publication.) At the same time, Beethoven would have found comfort in the option of scordatura: to take the tuning hammer and raise the pitch
of a single note on the keyboard without making another pitch unavailable in its stead. The sonata, in other words, remains executable in its entirety on the kind of keyboard that Beethoven had.
Beethoven may have been the only pianist-composer with a magnificent Broadwood in Vienna—a unique circumstance that must
have flattered his ego—but the context is still one of a composer at
his keyboard, the latter serving as a tool or interface for his ideas.
Writing the C-sharp is not a story of vision or sheer imagination:
Beethoven’s “C-natural that wants to be a C-sharp” may tweak materiality, but it does so in an utterly clever and concrete way.
C-natural or C-sharp: the question had been planted long before
(or had been on Beethoven’s mind), particularly in the coda of the
first movement. Listen to track 1, 03:11–03:30, where the pianist
cannot make up his mind: will he go for a major or minor tonality,
for C-sharp or C-natural? But ultimately we do not have to choose.
By the end of the sonata, sound yields to touch and imagination—a
deeply positive message for the hard-of-hearing composer.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4291 on: July 25, 2019, 06:06:40 AM »
The first paragraph makes sense.

Beethoven wrote a note and then specified an ossia for pianos that couldn't play it. That's the bit that is most relevant to what I was saying.

The rest strikes me as a flight of fantasy trying to avoid the more obvious conclusion that Beethoven would have liked a piano with a C sharp despite not having such a piano, by constructing an elaborate argument about why Beethoven couldn't possibly have written something that wasn't 100% satisfactory on his own instrument, and so couldn't have actually meant what he wrote.

An argument that goes against the fact already acknowledged in the first paragraph that he did write something, in op.111, that couldn't be played on his own piano.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2019, 06:11:43 AM by Madiel »
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
« Reply #4292 on: July 25, 2019, 06:15:53 AM »
In any case, I'm not at all sure that what I was talking about was one of those late sonatas and that piano. Before the Broadwood he had other pianos with a smaller range than 6 octaves.

I suspect the thing I have in mind was in Tovey's analysis of the sonatas. But for various reasons I haven't a clue where my copy of Tovey is right now so I can't check.
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