Author Topic: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)  (Read 372634 times)

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1900 on: October 11, 2021, 03:56:55 AM »
As I am still (or again) in two minds on whether the fugue should be separated or not, I do both.
By now most recordings have the fugue as standard finale (up to the case that the rondo is not included at all), so one has to program/skip for the rondo finale. The fugue is quite exhausting even only listening after an already fairly long piece, which can be a point against the fugue. Listening separately op.133 can get all the attention it deserves.
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Offline amw

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1901 on: October 11, 2021, 04:17:24 AM »
How do you prefer to tackle the Quartet Op. 130 and the Grosse Fuge? Treat them as separate works? Listen to 5 movts of Op.130 then the Fuge? Or the whole shebang?
I usually go with whatever tracking the quartet in question has used rather than messing around with it, since that is usually an important part of their conception. But if it were left entirely to my choice, e.g. if I were a string player performing the piece etc, I would finish Op. 130 with the Grosse Fuge and then programme the alternate finale as a (long) encore.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1902 on: October 11, 2021, 04:58:07 AM »
How do you prefer to tackle the Quartet Op. 130 and the Grosse Fuge? Treat them as separate works? Listen to 5 movts of Op.130 then the Fuge? Or the whole shebang?

I'll listen to them separately, but I usually skip the revised final movement because I don't like it.  :-\

Offline krummholz

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1903 on: October 11, 2021, 07:20:04 AM »
Op. 133 FTW. The "revised" finale has never seemed to me to fit with the rest of the quartet.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1904 on: October 11, 2021, 07:52:12 AM »
The second finale fits the quartet actually better by not being a gigantic fugue but more in line with the divertimento-like movements 3 and 4 but it is of course less impressive than the fugue (almost anything is).
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline krummholz

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1905 on: October 11, 2021, 08:22:12 AM »
The second finale fits the quartet actually better by not being a gigantic fugue but more in line with the divertimento-like movements 3 and 4 but it is of course less impressive than the fugue (almost anything is).

I've never felt that III was divertimento-like. But yes, it's more similar in mood to, say, II and IV. But to me that's not enough to make it "fit", not as a finale anyway. YMMV.

Offline André

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1906 on: October 11, 2021, 09:22:52 AM »
The second finale fits the quartet actually better by not being a gigantic fugue but more in line with the divertimento-like movements 3 and 4 but it is of course less impressive than the fugue (almost anything is).

My sentiment, too. Listening to the Fugue as part of the quartet is like having a roastbeef follow an already full and satisfying meal. Just too much of a good thing. I find the Fugue a great standalone piece. For the very same reason most performances of Fidelio eschew Leonore III altogether. Playing it within the course of the opera (as Bernstein does, I believe) makes for an awkward construct.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1907 on: October 11, 2021, 09:25:44 AM »
For the very same reason most performances of Fidelio eschew Leonore III altogether. Playing it within the course of the opera (as Bernstein does, I believe) makes for an awkward construct.

Oh, for this I disagree. I was so disappointed when the Manitoba Opera did Fidelio and did not include the Leonore Overture near the end.  :'( :'(

Since I have Bernstein's recording, I was expecting it, as I didn't realize it wasn't the "norm".

To me, it's the splendid cup of coffee after a very satisfying meal.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 09:28:46 AM by OrchestralNut »

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1908 on: October 11, 2021, 09:36:01 AM »
Apparently Mahler introduced Leonore III as an addition within the 2nd act of Fidelio. I think it is bizarre to hold up the action for almost 15 min. with an instrumental "summary". For me, both Leonore II and III have grown to big to remain parts of the opera and are better served as separate "tone poems".
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Biffo

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1909 on: October 12, 2021, 08:46:12 AM »
Apparently Mahler introduced Leonore III as an addition within the 2nd act of Fidelio. I think it is bizarre to hold up the action for almost 15 min. with an instrumental "summary". For me, both Leonore II and III have grown to big to remain parts of the opera and are better served as separate "tone poems".

As I understand it Mahler introduced Leonore III to cover a lengthy scene change. I have never seen it in the theatre and Bernstein is the only recording I know to include it _ I am sure there are others though.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1910 on: October 12, 2021, 08:56:00 AM »
I have seen it on stage only once and I don't think they had it in the second act. (But it was messed up anyway as they played parts of Leonore *II* as ouverture, as far as I recall and switched the first pieces or some such experiment.)  The scene change is from the dungeon to the final scene in the courtyard of the prison with the minister. I don't think this is a problem with today's stage technology. Another option would be to play it just as an ouverture altthough it does not fit as well with the first duet whereas the final E major ouverture leads into the A major duet naturally. I think this is one reason why they chose Marzelline's c minor aria as the first piece in that performance I saw 20 years ago. (The Leonore ouvertures are all in C major.)
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I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1911 on: October 12, 2021, 10:38:34 AM »
I read somewhere that even before Mahler, Otto Nicolai (who died in 1849) inserted the Leonore III overture before the final tableau in performances of Fidelio. Apart from Bernstein, several conductors have followed this custom. Of the recordings I have, two under Karl Böhm (live in Vienna in 1955, and the 1979 Dresden studio version on DG), as well as Toscanini’s with the NBC Orchestra, include the Leonore III. Abbado, and the obscure but delightful version conducted Carl Bamberger from Hamburg (originally on LP on Nonesuch, sloppily transferred to CD on the Gala label) do not.

I’ve seen the work onstage twice, both times here in Madrid. Abbado didn’t include the Leonore III (it was a tour of the production that led to his recording mentioned above, albeit with a slightly different cast). Hartmut Haenchen did something even more “experimental”: instead of the Leonore III, he played the last two movements of the Fifth Symphony. Sounds bizarre, but it kinda worked.  ;)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2021, 10:42:35 AM by ritter »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1912 on: October 12, 2021, 11:10:42 AM »
It was apparently very common in the first half of the 20th century in Germany/Austria. IIRC Riezler suggests in his Beethoven book to cut the orchestral intro to the finale if the ouverture is played before because the brilliant coda would weaken the effect of the intro anyway. As I said, I think it is too long in any case, especially within the 2nd act and although I love the short Fidelio ouverture and I think it fits best with the final (standard) version of the opera, if one insists on Leonore III it seems best as an actual ouverture and  then one has to accept the tonal contrast with the first duet. Or one edits the dialogue to have a bit of bickering before the singing starts... ;)
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The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1913 on: October 12, 2021, 05:36:46 PM »
The second finale fits the quartet actually better by not being a gigantic fugue but more in line with the divertimento-like movements 3 and 4 but it is of course less impressive than the fugue (almost anything is).

Completely agree. I am very much in favour of keeping the fugue separate. Just like Beethoven actually wanted.
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Offline Maestro267

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1914 on: October 13, 2021, 11:01:20 PM »
All this stuff about what Beethoven "actually" wanted vs what he originally wanted...

He only changed his mind cos he was so forward-thinking the people at the time didn't get his music. With the Grosse Fuge as finale we have the chamber music equivalent of the Ninth Symphony, an all-time epic creation of humanity. It also makes for a great bookending with the almost-equally-lengthy first movement, but appropriately the finale is a significant amount longer.

Offline Herman

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1915 on: October 14, 2021, 01:06:57 AM »
Completely agree. I am very much in favour of keeping the fugue separate. Just like Beethoven actually wanted.

Obviously that is not what Beethoven wanted. In his mind the Fugue = the finale of 130.

However, he also wanted the damn thing sold and performed, so he compromised.

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1916 on: October 14, 2021, 01:12:13 AM »
All this stuff about what Beethoven "actually" wanted vs what he originally wanted...

He only changed his mind cos he was so forward-thinking the people at the time didn't get his music. With the Grosse Fuge as finale we have the chamber music equivalent of the Ninth Symphony, an all-time epic creation of humanity. It also makes for a great bookending with the almost-equally-lengthy first movement, but appropriately the finale is a significant amount longer.

I tend to agree with this. I would certainly love to listen to the work like this in performance. And then, ideally, the new finale as an encore.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1917 on: October 14, 2021, 03:19:42 AM »
It's an almost unique case. We know how in several pieces Beethoven changed movements or made other changes before the first performances (most famous the replacement of the "Andante favori" by the "introduzion" in the Waldstein sonata. We also have several versions of Leonore/Fidelio (and almost always take the last version for Beethoven's preferred). I think op.130+133 is the only case with such a big change from first performance to publication. We also know that Beethoven could be famously stubborn and was not easily persuaded to change things or make them easier for performers or listeners. It's basically a tie between Beethoven's "original intention" and his "final wishes", between first performance and publication, I don't see why one should obviously take precedence over the other.
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The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1918 on: October 14, 2021, 05:09:37 AM »
He only changed his mind cos he was so forward-thinking the people at the time didn't get his music.

Evidence, please.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
« Reply #1919 on: October 14, 2021, 05:10:01 AM »
Obviously that is not what Beethoven wanted. In his mind the Fugue = the finale of 130.

However, he also wanted the damn thing sold and performed, so he compromised.

Evidence, please.

Given that the Grosse Fugue was itself published (hint: it has an opus number), the notion that it was necessary to remove the Grosse Fugue in order to achieve publication is frankly problematic.

There's this myth floating around that Beethoven was some kind of implacable visionary, who couldn't possibly change his mind for musical reasons, but as is shown above this myth is just contrary to the known facts about Beethoven. He did change his mind, in precisely the same way, on other occasions.

The andante favori is already mentioned. Let's add how the Kreutzer violin sonata includes a movement originally intended for a different violin sonata. There are plenty of much less famous examples, particularly from Beethoven's early career, but also within the late quartets there are cases of movements being planned for one quartet but then moved to another. Beethoven did lots of major revisions of works, and there are a considerable number of cases where that revision involves jettisoning an entire movement on the basis that it didn't fit with the work as a whole. Only with the Grosse Fugue do people suddenly start saying that no, it somehow wasn't in Beethoven's nature to change his original vision. It was in his nature, he did it lots of times, and removing movements is in fact highly characteristic of him.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2021, 05:21:33 AM by Madiel »
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