Friday, August 22, 2014

Podcast Encore: Beethoven's Late Choral Works

Our Summer 2014 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a Friday Blog and Podcast from August 31st, 2012.

The podcast (No. 69 in our ongoing series) can be found in our archives at

Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.

pcast069- Playlist

The original title of this montage "Concluding the Beethoven Project" telegraphed that this was the last in a year-long monthly (ish) series of podcasts where we featured many of Beethoven's major orchestral works. Nore pertinent to this year's summer series, this montage features more "late" Beethoven - in this case the late choral works.

When reviewing the Kinsky catalogue of Beethoven’s compositions, we notice a large number of works with a choral flavour starting at op. 112 – some of these works like the Choral (Ninth) Symphony (op. 125), the Missa Solemnis (op. 123) and the Ruins of Athens (op. 113) were the object of past musings in our Tuesday or Friday series. last week's sampling of the three last quartets is also in-keeping with this phase of Beethoven's career and output.

In the mid-1970’s, a then freelancing Michael Tilson Thomas – in the midst of a Beethoven cycle with the English Chamber Orchestra – recorded many of Beethoven’s late choral works, including the incidental music to Konig Stephan (op. 117), the brief cantata Meeresstille und gluckliche Fahrt (op. 112) and a few more works for chorus, and instrument combinbations, with the help of the London Symphony and the Ambrosian Singers.

Today’s montage presents the entire album, intersperced with the violin romances (with Davd Oistrakh as soloist) and one last symphonic work…

Our discussion of Fidelio brought up Beethoven’s sense of justice and his admiration and later his displeasure for Napoleon BonaparteWellington’s Victory is a work that commemorates the Duke of Wellington's victory over Joseph Bonaparte (the elder brother of Napoleon ) and his forces at the Battle of Vitoria in Spain on 21 June 1813 and not Wellington's defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

"Wellington's Victory" calls for two flutes, a piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, a contrabassoon, four horns, six trumpets, three trombones, timpani, a large percussion battery (including muskets and other artillery sound effects), and a usual string section. It is interesting to note the greater number of trumpets than horns, and the expansion of brass and percussion forces.

I  think you will love this music too.