Listening to Beethoven #163 – Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus) Op.43

Maria Casentini, Beethoven’s prima ballerina for The Creatures of Prometheus. Used courtesy of Beethoven-Haus Bonn

Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus) Op.43 for orchestra (1801, Beethoven aged 30)

Dedication Salvatore Viganò & Empress Maria Theresa
Duration 60′

Music and reconstruction of the plot (from Wikipedia)

Overture
Act 1
Introduction
Poco adagio
Adagio – allegro con brio
Minuetto
Act 2
Maestoso – Andante
Adagio – Andante quasi allegretto
Un poco adagio – Allegro
Allegro con brio – Presto
Adagio – Allegro molto
Pastorale
Andante
Maestoso (also known as “Solo di Gioia” for solo dancer Gaetano Gioia) – Procession of Silenus
Allegro – Comodo – Dance of Pan and two fauns or nymphs
Andante – Adagio (also known as Solo della Casentini, written for Beethoven’s prima ballerina, Maria Casentini)
Andantino – Adagio (also known as Solo di Viganó)
Finale- Wedding

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

Ballet had been a central feature of entertainment in Vienna’s court theatres for several generations prior to Beethoven’s arrival, and after a fallow period under Joseph II, Leopold II restored it to a higher standing in the 1790s. Beethoven had just one encounter with the stage in Bonn, his music for the Ritterballet, but as Daniel Heartz points out many of the piano variations he wrote in Vienna were based on dances or arias, showing he was keeping abreast of new works for the stage.

The celebrated choreographer Salavtore Viganò was asked to premiere a new work each year in Vienna from 1799, and in 1801 he chose to focus on the story of Prometheus. With the intention to honour Empress Marie Therese, Beethoven was invited to write the music, and the hour-long score occupied him up to the premiere in the Burgtheater on 28 March 1801.

Anthony Burton, writing in the Deutsche Grammophon Complete Beethoven, remarks that ‘The Creatures of Prometheus is a work of unusual interests in two respects. It consists of over an hour of mature Beethoven…which is virtually unknown apart from a short overture and one tune in the finale. And it is one of only two extended ballet scores by major composers of the Classical period (the other is Gluck’s Don Juan) to have survived intact. After its first performance the piece became wildly popular, receiving another 28 performances before the end of the following year.

Summarising the plot, he writes, ‘The demigod Prometheus creates two human figures out of clay and brings them to life with the aid of fire stolen from heaven. Finding them lacking in any emotion, he leads them to Parnassus, where they are instructed in the arts by Apollo, Bacchus and the Muses, and through the power of harmony made susceptible to all the passions of human life.’

Heartz describes the structure of the ballet as a ‘heroic-allegorical’ story with the heroism in Act 1 and the allegorical work in Act II, a much longer structure’. The overture, with its close links to the Symphony no.1 in C major, is often performed separately as a concert-opener. Act II is described as ‘more pageant than action ballet’.

Heartz picks out three numbers for special attention. No.8 is described as ‘an impressive rondo in martial style’, no.10 ‘a lovely Pastorale’, and no.16 ‘the great Finale’, where Beethoven writes a theme later used in his Eroica Variations Op.35, and the finale of the Eroica symphony. No.14 in F is the big solo for the celebrated Signora Casentini, playing the first woman created.’

Anthony Burton’s conclusion is striking. ‘Prometheus caught and enhanced the dramatic fire of which Beethoven was capable. It emboldened him to attempt more daring orchestral feats in Symphony no.2. Experience in theatre helped him when he returned to the dramatic stage with his Leonore in subsequent years.

With all that said, audiences were disappointed, in spite of Beethoven’s prowess as a composer. As he wrote just three weeks after the premiere, ‘I have made a ballet, but the ballet master did not make the very best of his end of the job’.

Thoughts

Most concert-goers encounter just five minutes of Beethoven’s music for The Creatures of Prometheus, through the Overture. It is often chosen as an opening piece by orchestras because of its abrupt start, a chord hewn from the rock face. Like the beginning of the first symphony it is a C major chord with an added seventh (B flat) but this time the added note is at the bottom of the texture. The sharp attack no doubt stifles conversation among even the most disruptive audience members! Beethoven’s expert use of silence around the first few chords heightens the drama.

If the Overture is the only part of the ballet you have heard, then you have been missing out. The Creatures of Prometheus might not be a forsaken masterpiece, but it has a lot of good tunes, imaginative orchestration and some very positive music. The relative lack of plot does play a part at times, meaning there is not quite as much contrast in the music of Act 2 as there might have been, but Beethoven’s writing more than compensates.

The orchestration feels heavier than the first symphony, both in the overture and in the bright and breezy section where the statues come to life. The harp playing of Amphion is a striking beginning to the fifth number, which also has a striking cello solo (Orpheus) whose cadenza is followed by a soft-hearted theme as the creatures are presented to Apollo.

There is an impressive heft to the section where the two humans are taught martial arts, while the Pastorale is rather lovely. The prima ballerina solo is elegant and beautifully scored, with solos for basset horn and oboe. The penultimate number begins in subdued fashion but breaks out into a vigorous exchange. Finally we turn to one of Beethoven’s favourite keys, E flat major, for the wedding and celebration of Prometheus’ mission. The important theme ends the ballet in celebratory mood, with a spring in the step and some bracing orchestral figures.

A highly enjoyable hour in Beethoven’s company, then – and an energising one too.

Spotify playlist and Recordings used

Orchestra of the 18th Century / Frans Brüggen (Philips)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon)
Freiburger Barockorchester / Gottfried von der Goltz (Harmonia Mundi)

After the opening chords ricochet, the sound of the Freiburger Barockorchester is unexpectedly rich in the lower end, before a headlong rush through the first Allegro. Their approach is a vigorous one, and highly enjoyable in the faster music where a gutsy orchestral sound is revealed.

Frans Brüggen conducts another ‘period instrument’ version with real panache, his Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century not quite as bombastic as their counterparts from Freiburg but giving a classy interpretation nonetheless. Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducts a version with plenty of character from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, while the conductor-less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra impress with their control and depth, if not quite as much evident excitement as the period versions.

To listen to clips from the recording from the Scottih Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras on Hyperion, head to their website

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 1801 Haydn The Spirit’s Song, Hob.XXVIa:41

Next up Sonata for piano and violin no.4 in A minor Op.23

Listening to Beethoven #160 – Symphony no.1 in C major Op.21

Gustav Klimt, Beethovenfries (Detail): Poesie
Poesie, detail from the Beethoven-Frieze (1902) by Gustav Klimt

Symphony no.1 in C major Op.21 for orchestra (1799-1800, Beethoven aged 29)

Dedication Baron Gottfried van Swieten
Duration 30′

1. Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
2. Andante cantabile con moto
3. Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace
4. Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

Beethoven took his time before setting down his first symphonic work. Aware of the prowess already shown by Haydn and Mozart, he wanted to be on a sure footing with his first contribution to the form, and used a big concert in Vienna to make his move. The concert contained a major Mozart symphony – thought to be the Prague or the Jupiter – an aria from Haydn’s The Creation, and three major Beethoven works. The first was the Septet, fresh off the page, thought to have been followed by the First Piano Concerto and, finally, this new Symphony.

Reaction was favourable, the only slight criticism an observation that the wind section enjoyed a much higher profile than previously. Beethoven’s other formal inventions were subtle enough to ease the audience into the first part of a transition – with the most inventive tactic deployed early on. The very first chord is the key – C major, but with an added B flat – the seventh – pointing the music towards F major. It may not seem a massive switch but listen to the first chord and you will hear just how different its emphasis is, the first time a composer had tried such a trick in a symphony.

Having pointed this out Jan Swafford is keen to emphasise the traditional aspects of the symphony, the first movement proceeding with ‘a vigorous, military-toned Allegro con brio, its phrasing foursquare, its modulations modest, its development and coda not excessively long’. Similar observations are made on the cautious aspects of the other three movements, though the Minuetto is noted to be a ‘dashing’ scherzo. Overall, for Swafford, ‘as a composer of symphonies and concertos he would rest patiently in the shadow of Haydn and Mozart and experiment with voices while he waited for his muse to show him a more adventurous path.’

Daniel Heartz is more complimentary, though also notes how ‘the symphony as a whole does not reach the level of Haydn and Mozart at their best. All praise to Beethoven, nevertheless, for having the courage to essay a genre that did not come easily to him, and to persevere over four or five years until he was ready to brave public appearance as a symphonist.

A final word to Brahms. ‘I also see that Beethoven’s First Symphony seemed so colossal to its first audiences. It has indeed a new viewpoint. But the last three Mozart symphonies are much more significant. Now and then people realise that this is so’.

Thoughts

While all the critical observations note Beethoven’s caution and respect of tradition in the First Symphony, it is still a remarkable work for its time. It also has great invention, and in a sense Beethoven’s work as an original thinker was already done by the time the first chord had been intoned. Using that particular chord, the C major seventh, would have been a real eyeopener for anybody of the time, a tactic not yet tried that suggested a composer ready to take risks.

As it proceeds the first movement is full of vigorous debate and fulsome writing for wind, an enjoyable dialogue with bags of positive energy. Beethoven writes with great assurance, the dynamic is often loud and the mood upbeat throughout.

In the second movement a tender side is revealed, along with a little wit resembling Haydn – it has a similar profile to the slow movement of his teacher’s Symphony no.100, the ‘Clock’. It also slips into the distant key of D flat major, wholly typical of Beethoven to be thinking further afield with his harmonies, but from here he fashions an effortless return ‘home’.

It may be marked ‘Minuetto’ but there is no way the third movement is anything other than a scherzo. It has a very simple profile – an upwardly rising scale – but Beethoven typically works it into something meaningful. Only 25 seconds in and he’s back in D flat major, showing once again the skill with which he can move between keys. With syncopations and catchy exchanges this is a compact marvel. The trio section is also incredibly straightforward, a series of repeated chords from the woodwind, but once again very effective.

The way Beethoven introduces his main tune in the finale is also very clever, stepping up a ladder one step at a time, returning to earth, then rushing up to the top for the full tune. It generates a good deal of momentum to power this substantial movement, which as Daniel Heartz says represents a desire on the part of the composer to give his works more impetus at the end rather than the beginning. As the symphonies progress we will see this more and more.

Spotify playlist and Recordings used

NBC Symphony Orchestra / Arturo Toscanini (RCA)
Cleveland Orchestra / George Szell (Sony Classical)
Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century / Frans Brüggen (Philips)
Berliner Philharmoniker / Herbert von Karajan (Deutsche Grammophon)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Claudio Abbado (Deutsche Grammophon)
Danish Chamber Orchestra / Ádám Fischer (Naxos)
Minnesota Orchestra / Osmo Vänskä (BIS)

To listen to clips from the recording from the Scottih Chamber Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras on Hyperion, head to their website

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 1800 Weber Das stumme Waldmädchen

Next up 6 Easy Variations on an Original Theme WoO 77

Listening to Beethoven #159 – Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major Op.19

beethoven-393
Beethoven (1987) by Andy Warhol – screenprint on Lenox Museum Board

Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major Op.19 for piano and orchestra (1787-1800, Beethoven aged 29)

Dedication Karl Nickl von Nickelsberg
Duration 30′

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

Beethoven’s ‘second’ piano concerto has a detailed history, and is actually his first in order of composition, completed some distance before the official no.1.

Thought to have been started in Bonn as far back as 1787, when the composer was just 16, it underwent several revisions, with the first movement the only survivor from the original edition. Beethoven had an original version of the Rondo in B flat major in place for a performance in Prague in 1798, but this was ‘upgraded’ later that year.

When he presented the concerto to his publisher Hoffmeister, on 15 January 1801, Beethoven introduced the second concerto as a piece ‘which I do not claim to be one of my best’. Jan Swafford, while agreeing the first movement is ‘one of the most routine orchestral movements Beethoven ever published’, goes on to note that ‘…beneath a not particularly bold surface, his searching nature can’t help showing itself’. He highlights the ‘startling tonal excursions’ of the first movement, and the ‘more mature, more Viennese’ nature of the second and third. A link is also drawn to ‘the lofty choruses of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte’ in the Adagio.

Barry Cooper, in his notes for the recent recording by Stephen Hough, Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra on Hyperion, describes the ‘strange, off-beat theme’ of the finale, ‘that adds a great sense of humour to the movement – especially when it returns near the end in a remote key (G major), with the rhythm shifted slightly so that the long notes now fall on the beat instead of after it.’

Thoughts

This is Beethoven with bright eyes and a bushy tail, though throughout the Piano Concerto no.2 there is often a sense of politeness, as though the composer is keen to establish himself in the form before doing anything too outlandish.

The first movement is the most expansive, and there are some lovely moments, particularly the way the piano floats in on the back of the orchestral introduction. Soon the keyboard is dominating with flourishes for both hands, exchanging thoughts with the orchestra.

Beethoven enjoys moving into distant keys – thematic material appears in D flat major and then in the beautifully hushed tones of G flat. Other than that he has a lot of fun, and when the movement hints at a soft ending the piano bubbles up to lift the energy and cross the line at a faster pace.

The heart of this piece, however, lies in the second movement Adagio. The breathy introduction from the strings is a magical moment, Beethoven in one of his favourite keys (E flat major) but writing music of an operatic dimension, an aria for piano and orchestra. His studies with Salieri may well have informed this.

As with the first concerto, the best tune is saved for the last movement – and again it is a Rondo, giving concert-goers an earworm for the interval – and just about trumping the original Rondo that Beethoven had written, which now survives as a standalone piece. This one is particularly upbeat, and there are elements of the military march. The third theme, in G minor, has a rustic quality with its ornamentation.

The B flat concerto would surely have been the ideal vehicle for Beethoven as he gradually left his musical mark on Viennese concert life. On occasion it resembles Mozart’s last concerto, in the same key, but there are original elements that could only be by Beethoven, who has fun with virtuosity at the keyboard, unexpected harmonic shifts and a dialogue with the orchestra that is never less than genial. It is a fresh and invigorating piece.

Spotify playlist and Recordings used

Wilhelm Kempff, Berliner Philharmoniker / Ferdinand Leitner (Deutsche Grammophon)
Robert Levin, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique / Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Arkiv)
Mitsuko Uchida, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Kurt Sanderling (Philips)
Rudolf Serkin, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Kubelik (Orfeo)
Claudio Arrau, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Bernard Haitink (Philips)
Martha Argerich, Philharmonia Orchestra / Giuseppe Sinopoli (Deutsche Grammophon)
Ronald Brautigam, Die Kölner Akademie / Michael Alexander Willens (BIS)
Stephen Hough, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu (Hyperion)
Stephen Kovacevich, BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Colin Davis (Philips)

The B flat concerto is a particularly fresh piece of work in the hands of Stephen Kovacevich, with bright accompaniment from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis. Robert Levin and John Eliot Gardiner’s account is very nicely judged, and there is a magical moment towards the end of the slow movement when the main theme returns in hushed strings. Boris Giltburg has a light touch in the first movement of his recording with the RLPO and Petrenko, and the orchestra respond to his airy approach, making the music sound fresh. The tender slow movement is beautifully poised. Mitsuko Uchida brings balance and a light touch to her recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Kurt Sanderling, who are occasionally expansive in their accompaniment.

To listen to clips from Stephen Hough’s new recording on Hyperion, head to their website

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 1800 Boieldieu Harp Concerto in C major

Next up Symphony no.1 in C major Op.21

Listening to Beethoven #151 – Piano Concerto no.1 in C major Op.15

piano-concerto-1
Beethoven (1987) by Andy Warhol – screenprint on Lenox Museum Board

Piano Concerto no.1 in C major Op.15 for piano and orchestra (1795-1800, Beethoven aged 29)

Dedication Princess Babette Odescalchi (a former pupil)
Duration 35′

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

Beethoven tried his hand at a piano concerto back in 1784 at the age of 13, and although it was another 17 years before his next attempt was published, the musical form was never far from his mind. As Barry Cooper reports in his booklet note for Hyperion’s new recordings with soloist Stephen Hough, ‘By 1795, Beethoven felt ready to launch a public career as a pianist-composer. He began composing his Piano Concerto no.1, making numerous sketches and rough drafts’.

A prototype seems to have been performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna on 29 March 1795, with the finale composed in a hurry, but the work was revised in 1800 and written out afresh. This final version was published in March 1801, with the original lost. Cooper writes that ‘around this time, Beethoven began including pedal marks in his own piano works, and this concerto was his first work (along with the Quintet for piano and wind Op.16) to be published with them’.

Daniel Heartz notes that the work ‘calls for the full orchestra of Mozart’s largest piano concertos’ – and goes on to draw parallels with Mozart in Beethoven’s structuring of the first movement and the relationship between the piano and the orchestra. Cooper finds that ‘in all of Beethoven’s piano concertos, the first movement is the most complex, written in a blend of Baroque ritornello form and the more modern sonata form.’ The suggestion is that a great deal of time has been spent on it, as well as the traditional cadenza near the end of the movement. While this section would normally be improvised by the soloist, Beethoven wrote out three possibilities – one in 1808 and two more in 1809.

Heartz describes the theme of the finale as ‘sharply etched in emphatic rhythms, with many repeated tones, lending it a popular or folklike character, like a country dance. For him the third theme has a ‘Slavic twang’.

The reaction to the concerto is not well-documented, but it appeared in an 1801 concert in Vienna which included the first performance of the Septet and the Symphony no.1, also in C major.

Thoughts

Beethoven’s official entry into the concerto arena has a real sense of occasion in its opening minutes. The orchestra play for a good three minutes before we hear the piano, which would surely have heightened the audience expectation back in 1801. It is an elegant theme that gains stature and power, complemented by a flowing second tune.

When the piano has arrived Beethoven enjoys its qualities in dialogue with the orchestra, as well as showing it off. There are some surprisingly quiet, touching moments where the ear is pulled in – just as there are the more obvious opportunities for display.

The first movement is a long one but sustains the drama through to the cadenza, the soloist given plenty of time to display their wares. It may even be too long in comparison to the rest of the work, for it is almost half the duration.

For the slow movement Beethoven chooses A flat major, the same key which held our rapt attention for the second movement of the Pathétique sonata. Here the effect is similar if not quite as concentrated, yet there are tender asides both for the soloist and the orchestra and some lovely prompting from the woodwind, clarinet in particular. The piano tells its story in expressive tones.

The best tune, however, is held over for the finale. It is a catchy number with its roots in the dance, as Daniel Heartz notes, and because of the finale’s ‘Rondo’ structure (A-B-A-C-A-B-A) and its status as the ‘A’ theme, we hear it several times – and it is undoubtedly the tune the audience walk away humming!

Spotify playlist and Recordings used

Wilhelm Kempff, Berliner Philharmoniker / Ferdinand Leitner (Deutsche Grammophon)
Robert Levin, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique / Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Arkiv)
Mitsuko Uchida, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Kurt Sanderling (Philips)
Rudolf Serkin, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rafael Kubelik (Orfeo)
Claudio Arrau, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Bernard Haitink (Philips)
Martha Argerich, Philharmonia Orchestra / Giuseppe Sinopoli (Deutsche Grammophon)
Ronald Brautigam, Die Kölner Akademie / Michael Alexander Willens (BIS)
Stephen Hough, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu (Hyperion)

With so many recordings of the concerto it is only possible to offer a few pointers rather than declare a definitive version, but each of the above recordings have helped form an impression of the piece. Wilhelm Kempff and Ferdinand Leitner give a joyful account from 1960 which has held up extremely well, as do Rudolf Serkin and Rafael Kubelik from 1977. Serkin uses the biggest cadenza in the first movement, heightening dramatic impact even if it feels a bit unbalanced. Claudio Arrau’s musicianship is first class, with an especially beautiful delivery of the third movement theme. Robert Levin and John Eliot Gardiner create a special atmosphere in the hushed slow movement. Like Levin, Ronald Brautigam performs on a fortepiano, though his instrument has a coarser sound, lean and to the point. Despite the excitement of his reading the notes are a bit clumped in the finale.

To listen to clips from Stephen Hough’s new recording on Hyperion, head to their website

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 1800 Boieldieu Harp Concerto in C major

Next up Horn Sonata in F major Op.17

Listening to Beethoven #49 – Rondo for piano and orchestra in B flat major


Portrait of Beethoven as a young man by Carl Traugott Riedel

Rondo in B flat major WoO 6 for piano and orchestra (1793, Beethoven aged 22)

Dedication not known
Duration 9′

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

This work bears all the hallmarks of the last movement of a piano concerto, so it comes as no surprise to learn that it was originally intended as the finale for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major, Op.19. This work was particularly long in the making, for it was begun – and more or less finished – in Bonn but held back from full publishing until 1801.

The Rondo, composed in 1793, stands alone, and is used by some pianists as an attractive filler to recordings of the concertos. It was not published in the composer’s lifetime, and the solo part needed completion by Beethoven’s student Carl Czerny before it was finally issued in 1829. Beethoven replaced the Rondo with another finale for the concerto, probably in 1794,

Writing about the piece in the booklet for his recent recording on Naxos, Boris Giltburg suggests the composer ‘felt that the Rondo was too jovial and gallant in spirit, and that the deeply poetic second movement (of the concerto) required a much more energetic, irreverent and humorous finale as a counterweight.’ He opts for the original version in his performance ’only adding short transitions and a cadenza where indicated by Beethoven. In my opinion, the Rondo is a lovely standalone piece, fun and carefree, and it deserves to be played—though I fully agree with Beethoven’s decision to remove it from the Concerto proper.’

Thoughts

The piano begins this piece with a bright, rippling theme, with Beethoven in effervescent mood. The strings respond with lilting syncopations, before the orchestra offer a fuller response. This is music with its roots in the dance, leading you to wonder if Beethoven was indeed experiencing new forms of dance in Vienna.

The piano has plenty of room for display, with quickfire ascents and descents, and extended passages with the fingers playing octaves apart. Beethoven does take room for the second theme, however, piano and strings uniting in a softer, detached melody which still has a dance lilt to it.

The piano leads the orchestra the whole way through, adding flicks and tricks to the mix while the orchestra look on. It is a classic concerto finale, and while at this stage we will take Boris Giltburg’s word for its successor being more suitable for the Piano Concerto no.2, we will have to try it out when the chance arises!

Recordings used

Ronald Brautigam (piano), Norrköpping Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Parrott (BIS)
Boris Giltburg (piano), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko (Naxos)
Sviatoslav Richter (piano), Wiener Symphoniker / Kurt Sanderling (Deutsche Grammophon)

Ronald Brautigam’s version is unclear, but the shorter duration of his and Sviatoslav Richter’s recordings would suggest they have taken on Czerny’s revisions. Both versions are excellent, but Richter’s rapport with the orchestra in the softer passages is lovely. The freshness of Boris Giltburg’s account and the newness of the recording tips the scales in his favour, for he clearly loves the piece.

Spotify links

Boris Giltburg, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko (Naxos)

Ronald Brautigam, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Parrott

Sviatoslav Richter (piano), Wiener Symphoniker / Kurt Sanderling (Deutsche Grammophon)

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 1793 Haydn 3 String Quartets Op.74

Next up Piano Trio no.1 in E flat major Op.1/1