Listening to Beethoven #48 – Que le temps me dure (2nd version)


Beethoven stamp, issued by Guernsey Post – part of a series of four
Design: The Potting Shed

Que le temps me dure WoO116b for voice and piano (1793, Beethoven aged 22)

Dedication not known
Text Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Duration 3′

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

Beethoven’s second setting of this text is for soprano and piano, as though setting the same thoughts of loss from a woman’s point of view as opposed to the man in his first account.

Interestingly the key is different this time around, the composer opting for E flat major – closely related to the C minor of the first setting. A lot of Beethoven’s musical thinking around this time was in E flat, with the Piano Trio no.1 and Octet sharing this key.

Thoughts

This second setting is more expansive in style than the first, Beethoven giving the soprano a melody of long notes and phrases. The steady piano part means the song stays in what feels like a static form of contemplation, reminiscent of Gounod‘s elaboration on J.S. Bach‘s Ave Maria.

Recordings used

Ulrike Helzel (soprano), Hans Hilsdorf (piano) (Deutsche Grammophon)

Ulrike Helzel has a full and quite luxurious tone for this song, with a nicely shaped accompaniment from Hans Hilsdorf. She also has a fulsome vibrato to her sound.

Spotify links

Ulrike Helzel, Hans Hilsdorf

Also written in 1793 Kozeluch 3 Piano Sonatas, Op.38

Next up Rondo for piano and orchestra in B flat major WoO 6

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