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Beethoven’s response is inspired both by his love for Goethe and his enthusiasm for the post-Revolutionary wave of French composers, which lent to his works around this time (notably the Emperor Piano Concerto and Fifth Symphony) their temperament and sometimes even their ideas. Beethoven owned a copy of Cherubini’s opera Medée, for example, and his overture owes more than its key to the Frenchman’s.
But really the differences are much more striking than the similarities. Where Cherubini is all bustle, a domestic scale for a domestic tragedy, the huge, slashing chords of Beethoven’s opening, the painful chromaticism of its introduction, groping for resolution, and the sledgehammer chords that punctuate its harried Allegro theme: these are universal in ambition. The sledgehammers don’t even let up from the second theme in the woodwinds, shapely but never without the sense of fate pressing close on its heels. It is those chords that finally overwhelm all lyrical impulse: the execution is graphically achieved. And at the moment of lowest despair is the highest suspense, where a new tonic is found, C after the F minor darkness, and the Victory Symphony rings out with unstoppable ebullience. This is music of the barricades.
from notes by Peter Quantrill © 2010
|Beethoven & Mendelssohn: LCO Live|
The London Chamber Orchestra, the UK’s oldest chamber orchestra, has nurtured the new and paid homage to the traditional since 1921. Since 1988 Principal Conductor and Music Director Christopher Warren-Green has brought together the inspirational ...» More