|This is my post from this week's Tuesday Blog.|
This week’s Cover 2 Cover share is a 1970 Angel LP of Beethoven’s 1801 ballet music for Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus), following the libretto of Salvatore Viganò. It is the only full length ballet by Beethoven.
The original scenario of the ballet is lost, making it difficult to establish the precise context of many of the sixteen numbers of the score and leading to different treatments of the music by various choreographers since. Nevertheless a broad outline of the story can be gathered from a surviving theatre-bill for the first performance at the Hofburgtheater on 28th March 1801:
Rarely performed as a complete ballet, we are familiar with the overture and Bacchus’ Heroic dance in the finale - which Beethoven reused later as the “theme” for the fourth movement of his Eroica symphony and his Eroica Variations for piano.
As I’ve opined before in these pages, ballet music sometimes stands alone well in the concert hall without dancers, though many composers typically assemble suites of highlights from their ballets for concert use. Maybe Beethoven should have followed that model; as a stand-alone piece of concert music, Prometheus lies somewhere between a curiosity and a piece of programmatic music (in the romantic vein) with a hard-to-follow story line.
Still, it’s worth the 50-odd minute investment. The performance is light and velvety, which is in itself something of a departure from the traditional German sound we typically associate with this composer.
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, op. 43
Ballet in two acts with an overture, after Greek mythology
The Menuhin Festival Orchestra
Yehudi Menuhin, conducting
Angel Records - S-36641
Format: Vinyl, LP, Stereo
Details - https://www.discogs.com/Beethoven-Ye...elease/3386479
Internet Archive - https://archive.org/details/TheCreaturesOfPrometheusBallet