Monday, June 6, 2011

6/6 The Other Symphony in C Minor

YOUNG BEETHOVEN (Lladró Porcelain Figures) 
One of my favorite finds on the Unheard Beethoven site is the early Symphony in C minor which Beethoven sketched but never completed.  Composed while still in Bonn, this sketch exists mainly as a piano score, but with markings for future orchestration.  In any case, it stands with the early Piano Quartet WoO. 36 as some of my favorite early Beethoven.  I have no idea why this is not more well known...

The Unheard Beethoven site features a midi version using full orchestration, completed by Willem, but I've never had much luck with full-symphony midi files.  So what I did here is to condense this completion back into piano score (in the video below), though I kept the timpani part.

Symphony Movement in C minor, Hess 298. (1791/93). orchestrated and completed
Midi Author: xickx
(The Unheard Beethoven)
"The Hess 298 sketch can be found in the Kafka Sketchbook, which is in the British Library. The heading reads: Sinfonia, and the tempo indication is Presto. It is in 3/4 time. The 111 bars long sketch is written on two staves, as if for piano. We have therefore not only the main melody, but also the bassline, which indicates unambiguously the intended harmonies. Once, in bar 91, there is an indication regarding the orchestration: obo[e]. Following this big chunk there are two little snippets, one 9 bars, the other 5 bars long. Clearly Beethoven intended to write a movement in Sonata form: the sketch covers the larger part of the expostion, with a first theme in C minor (bar 1), a transition (bar 68) and a second theme in the parallel key of E flat major (bar 86). The sketch breaks off halfway the second theme group.
"As is clear from the state in which Beethoven has left the sketch, it is impossible to complete this movement without the addition of extra material. A completion can therefore never claim to be authentic. It should be stressed that the aim of such a completion is to merely provide a framework which places the notes as written by Beethoven in an appropriate context, so that they can be judged and enjoyed as real music."

Willem's orchestrated version can be found here.  A midi of Beethoven's original sketch can be found here.

My reduction of Willem's orchestral arrangement to piano and timpani is below:


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