Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1/19 Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto: Color Analysis (Ashkenazy/Mehta)

Today's post is a return to some analysis.  I took a pretty long break from it to try and think up some new ways to present it.  My previous analysis posts have worked out fine and all, but I still felt that something was here's yet another way of presenting a visual analysis of the structure of some of Beethoven's works.  I have no idea why I chose Piano Concerto 4 - it's a real beast and it's wild and wooly modulations and permutations almost completely discouraged me - but here's a start.

Instead of annotating a live performance video, I'm going to try to color-code the formal structures of the movements.  I'm hoping this will give a "big picture" view of the piece and we can see Beethoven's long-range designs at a glance....

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, op. 58 (1806)
(performance by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Zubin Mehta)
0:00 - 1. Allegro Moderato
20:09 - 2. Andante con moto
26:01 - 3. Rondo (Vivace)

CHANNEL LINK: Click here to see this video on my YouTube Channel. Once there, click on "...(more info)" to scroll through the text description while the video stays in place.

Movement 1,  Allegro moderato
1st Exposition
1st Theme Intro - Piano solo (MAROON)
1st Theme (Orchestra solo)
2nd Theme (Orch) (BLUE)
3rd Theme (Orch) (GREEN)
Cadence Section (Orch) (Lt BLUE)
2nd Exposition
1st Theme Intro Orchestra (Maroon)
1st Theme Piano w Orch w variations
Bridge A (BROWN A)
Bridge B (BROWN B)
2nd Theme (BLUE)
3rd Theme (GREEN)
Cadence Section (Lt BLUE)
Development based on 1st Theme (PURPLE)
1st Recapitulation
1st Theme - Piano solo (MAROON)
1st Theme (both)
Bridge A Variation (BROWN)
Bridge B (BROWN)
2nd Theme (BLUE)
3rd Theme (GREEN)
3rd Theme Variation (GREEN)
Cadenza (3 Shades of BLUE)
1st Theme
3rd Theme
3rd theme with 1st theme
2nd Recapitulation
3rd Theme (GREEN)
Coda w 1st Theme (MAROON)

Movement 2, Andante con Moto (starting at 20:09)
1st Theme (Orch) (MAROON)
1st Theme (Piano) (BROWN)
1st Theme (Orch) (MAROON)
1st Theme (Piano) (BROWN)
Development (BLUE)
Transition Theme (2nd Theme) (GREEN)
Cadenza (PURPLE)
Coda: 1st Theme (BROWN)

Movement 3, Rondo (starting at 26:02)
1st Theme (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BROWN)
3rd Theme A (GREEN)
3rd Theme B (GREEN)
1st Theme (variation) (MAROON)
2nd Theme (BROWN)
3rd Theme A (GREEN)
3rd Theme B (short version) (GREEN)
Development (all themes) (PURPLE)
1st Theme (variation) (MAROON)
2nd Theme (variation) (BROWN)
Cadenza (3 shades of BLUE)
1st Theme (Piano)
2nd Theme (Piano)
Orchestra joins Piano
1st Theme (Coda) (MAROON)
(timings were assisted by Alan Rich's "Play by Play" book.
1st Movement Color Scheme
2nd Movement Color Scheme
3rd Movement Color Scheme

(Sadly Youtube is blocking these vids in Germany but here's the color schemes anyways....)

There is so much to be said about this work...this is just a bird's eye view. For more, check THIS excellent thesis out...


  1. This is mind-blowing stuff! All my life I've wanted to understand music structure in a deeper way, but since I don't read music and can't understand all the discussion in music books, I could never get anywhere. This is the way to go. Thank you so much for all your heroic efforts to spread this to the toiling masses!

  2. Hey it's my pleasure! Believe me, I need these visual aids as much as anybody...

  3. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, it´s a real help for everyone who love music and try to understand it