Listening to Beethoven #202 – Serenade in D major Op.41

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View of Freyung Plaza in Vienna from South-East by Bernardo Bellotto

Serenade in D major Op.41 for flute and piano, arranged by Franz Xaver Kleinheinz (1803, Beethoven aged 32)

Dedication not known
Duration 22′

1. Entrata, Allegro
2. Tempo ordinario d’un Menuetto
3. Allegro molto
4. Andante con Variazioni
5. Allegro scherzando e vivace
6. Adagio – Allegro vivace e disinvolto

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

The original version of this serenade, for flute, violin and viola, was completed in 1801. It was sufficiently popular for Beethoven to be approached for an arrangement by Franz Xaver Karlheinz, who was keen to use it for flute and piano. Beethoven approved, further adding his assent by checking the finished version, which was published in 1803.

As Arcana noted with the original version, there are six movements in a piece which appears not to have been written with any particular person in mind, more for the Viennese domestic market.

Thoughts

As noted in the original version of the Serenade, ‘Beethoven looks back to Mozart and Haydn with this piece, using the form of a Serenade to its full potential. Like Mozart he brings the most out of seemingly small forces’.

The arrangement for flute and piano works well, though the piano is in danger of dominating if there is not the required sensitivity from the player. The music remains bright and breezy, its good tunes exchanged frequently between flute and piano. The third movement, while lively, is noticeably heavier with the piano employed, while the first movement can also be punchier with the greater attack a piano offers. The dance movements, however, are enjoyably rustic and retain their charm, the fifth movement breezing along and the sixth, with its slow introduction, full of good humour too.

Recordings used and Spotify links

Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute), Robert Veyron-Lacroix (piano) (Vox Box)
Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Eric Le Sage (piano) (Auvidis Valois)
Kazunori Seo (flute), Makoto Ueno (piano) (Naxos)

Each of these three versions features a flautist who appears to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Emmanuel Pahud is arguably the most stylish, and has an attentive partner in Eric Le Sage, but the other versions are also very enjoyable.

You can listen to these versions on the playlist below:

You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!

Also written in 1803 Paganini Le streghe Op.8

Next up Prelude in F minor WoO55

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