Monday, May 16, 2011

5/16 Fly Tyrolean Air with Beethoven (Flute works)

Tyrolean Air (ways)
10 National Airs with Variations (Flute & Piano), Op.107 (1820)
From Allmusic:
The first of the ten sets of variations that comprise Op. 107 is generally regarded as one of Beethoven's finest humorous pieces. No.1 - using an Alpine air (E flat), "Ich bin a Tiroler Bua", Beethoven presents the theme with some positively hilarious writing for the flute (or violin), using the instrument as the brunt of his clownishness: first the flute can hardly play a meaningful accompaniment, then it cannot keep up with the busy piano. There follow four colorful and, again, humorous variations, with the flute once more the victim of Beethoven's mischievous pen.

The next piece, No.2 uses the Scottish "Bonny Laddie, Highland Laddie," producing a fine set of variations. No. 3 takes "Volkslied aus Kleinrussland," and imparts a sense of nearly reckless abandon to this infectious Russian dance theme. No.4 employs the popular "St. Patrick's Day." This is one of the more successful sets among the ten here, featuring a moving Adagio variation.

No. 5 ("A Madel, ja a madel") is important, too, but mainly for its great difficulty for both instruments. No.6, perhaps by no coincidence, bears a resemblance in mood to the composer's Sixth Symphony ("Pastoral"). Using the popular tune from Peggy's Daughter, Beethoven fashions a mostly tranquil, bucolic piece. The composer returns to the world of the third piece in No. 7, using a widely-known Russian tune from "Schöne Minka." The next set No.8 may rival the First in quality. The five variations on "O Mary, at thy Window be" are solidly conceived and quite inventive.

No.s 9 and 10 are based on a Scottish tune ("O, Thou art the Lad of my Heart") and a march, "The Highland Watch." Both are colorful and deftly-wrought creations, with the latter supplying a brilliant conclusion to the collection.

Here's No.5, Tirolian Air: "A Madel, ja a Madel" - that one is by far my personal favorite. It's a "total gas".
 - Original Theme (0:00)
 - Var 1 (1:01) - positively jazzy in that Charlie Brown way
 - Var 2 (2:08) - almost has a little bit of that Diabelli Variations adventurousness
 - Var 3 (3:22) - long flute trills and more jazzy scalar runs
 - Coda (Maestoso - Allegro) (5:03) - jaunty combination of variations

10 National Airs with Variations for Flute (or Violin) and Piano, Op.107 (1818)
Flute : Jean-Pierre Rampal. Piano : Robert Veyron-Lacrois.
1.Tirolian Air: I bin a Tiroler Bua (Theme: Moderato. Var. 1-4) 
2.Scottish Air: Bonnie laddie, Highland Laddie (Theme: Allegretto, quasi vivace. Var. 1-4) 
3.Volkslied aus Kleinrussland (Theme: Vivace. Var.1-5)
4.Scottish Air: St. Patrick's Day (Theme: Allegretto scherzoso. Var. 1-2)
5.Tirolian Air: A Madel, ja a Madel (Theme: Moderato. Var. 1-3)
6.Scottish Air: Peggy's Daughter (Theme: Andante comodo. Var.1-4)
7.Russian Air: Schöne Minka (Theme: Andante. Var.1-6)
8.Scottish Air: Oh, Mary at thy window be (Theme: Andantino quasi allegretto. Var.1-3)
9.Scottish Air: Oh, Thou art the Lad of my Heart (Theme: Allegretto più tosto vivace. Var.1-5)
10.Scottish Air: The Highland Watch (Theme: Spiritoso e marziale. Var.1-3)


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