Listening to Beethoven #212 – Allemande in A major, WoO 81

Entwurf Beethoven-Gedenkmünze 1970 (5 Deutsche Mark)

Draft for a Beethoven commemorative coin for 5 Deutsche Mark, 1969 – Photograph of an unmarked model (picture courtesy of the Beethovenhaus, Bonn)

Allemande in A major WoO 81 for piano (1793-1822)

Dedication not known
Duration 1’30”

Listen

written by Ben Hogwood

Background and Critical Reception

Some of Beethoven’s smaller pieces for piano have a very broad date margin. This Allemande is a case in point, given a composition date of 1793-1822 – the final date indicating a possible revision in his attempt to place it in the set of 11 Bagatelles Op.119. It is placed here to complement the Bagatelle we explored yesterday.

Writing the booklet notes for Ronald Brautigam’s recording, Roeland Hazeldonk talks of the ‘vast number of sketches he (Beethoven) had accumulated since before his arrival in Vienna’. There are many more of those for us to enjoy over the coming instalments.

Thoughts

The Allemande is a flowing piece with an easy temperament. Its florid right hand and relatively static left suggests a kind of etude, though the mood changes with Beethoven slips seamlessly into the minor key, and a more obvious dancing rhythm. After this brief shadow, the flowing music returns and all is well again.

Recordings used and Spotify playlist

Ronald Brautigam (BIS)
Gianluca Cascioli (Deutsche Grammophon)
Martino Tirimo (Hänssler)

Ronald Brautigam enjoys the expanse of the major key section, while Gianluca Cascioli is very brisk indeed with his tempo choice, wrapping everything up in just over a minute. Martino Tirimo is very easy going, and in his hands the minor-key central section becomes an elegant dance.

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

Next up Piano Sonata no.21 in C major Op.53 ‘Waldstein’

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