Friday, January 10, 2014

Montage # 138 – Theme and Variations: The Beethoven Edition

As of February 7, 2014, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address:


For the second chapter of our series on Themes and Variations, a look at some variations by Beethoven, With the exception of the first piece - for cello and piano - on today's montage, all the others are taken from Beethoven's variation catalog for the keyboard..

Surprisingly, most of Beethoven's piano variations are NOT in the Kinsky catalog with opus numbers, but can be found rather in the "without opus" series. The first two also have in common the obscure opera La Molinara (1788) by Giovanni Paisiello. The third set, the intricate series of 32 variations, are more well-known as the "Variations, WoO 80".

From a CBC  broadcast from October 5th, 1952, Glenn Gould proposes variations on a theme first rendered by Beethoven in his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus (of which we usually only hear the overture), which he  later re-used in his Third Symphony, thus the subtitle of the op. 35 "The Eroica Variations".
More piano variations, including the "Doabelli Variations", can be found at the Piano Society.

The closing piece in our montage is an homage to Beethoven by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The work takes its inspiration from the trio movement of Beethoven's Hunt sonata (no. 18). The montage provides the movement, and below is a complete performance of the sonata.

This trio is a fairly strange choice for a theme; its short phrases consist of leaping chords followed by a brief, more melodic figure. On the other hand, it is ideal from a duo standpoint because the chords echo and are easily split between the two performers. Saint-Saëns' variations are comparable to Beethoven's own variation writing in their diversity of style and complete pianism.

I think you will love this music too.

A compter du 1et janvier 2014, nos interventions en français (y compris le commentaire associé à cette baladodiffusion) sont exclusivement disponibles sur notre portail L'Idée Fixe.


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