Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1 Beethoven's Quintet For Piano & 4 Winds

Happy New Year!

Today features a relatively short work performed by the leaders of the NY Philharmonic Winds with pianist Shai Wosner - a dynamic and exuberant performance of a lesser-known Beethoven chamber work - supposedly influenced by Mozart...but heck in 1796, who wasn't...? 

Quintet For Piano and Winds, Op.16 (1796) (20 min)
Live from Symphony Space, September 16th, 2010
New York Philharmonic Principal Winds:
 - Liang Wang -> oboe
 - Pascual Martinez Forteza
-> clarinet
 - Judith LeClair
-> bassoon
 - Philip Myers
-> horn
 - Shai Wosner
-> Piano
Uploaded by clarinetny


The development starting at 8:35 takes things up a notch quite nicely...

"The first movement shows Beethoven making a serious attempt to be serious. The extended slow introduction, marked Grave, produces an opening movement that is as long as the two following movements combined. The winds start the proceedings, after which the piano quickly makes itself known with a solo flourish. Thereafter, for the most part, the forces trade thematic materials in democratic fashion, until another cadenza-like flourish from the piano leads into the Allegro proper. An invigorating and sprightly theme is stated and developed in a refreshingly non-dramatic way. After an exposition repeat, things become more agitated and the dynamic level also rises as the development begins. A striding passage reminds us briefly that E-flat is the same key Beethoven will use for his "Eroica" Symphony, still seven years in the future. Might we even hear a few pre-echoes of the "Emperor" Concerto, another work in E-flat? The coda gives the horn an arpeggiated figure, heard earlier in the piano; what is idiomatic for the keyboard is treacherous for the horn, and it is as thrilling to hear as it must be chilling to play.

The Andante cantabile offers opportunities for each instrument to sing, both solo and as a member of the ensemble. The delicate theme introduced by the piano returns to separate the episodes and initiate a new wave of rhapsodic dialogue among the conversationalists.

The evening ends with a game. The Rondo's nonchalant theme soon picks up speed as it is embellished and embroidered by the piano and the winds in a whirl of activity. As in a piano concerto, Beethoven leaves room for a solo cadenza in the first half of the finale. It is reported that the composer (who played the piano part himself when the work was new) would indulge in some extra improvisational activity, fooling the wind players, who - at first amused and then disgruntled - were waiting to come back in."
(Dennis Bade for the Hollywood Bowl)

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