Listening to Beethoven #35 – An Laura


Peanuts comic strip, drawn by Charles M. Schulz (c)PNTS

An Laura WoO 112 for voice and piano (1790-92, Beethoven aged 21)

Dedication not known
Text Friedrich von Matthisson
Duration 3’40”

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

A note on this song from the Beethoven-Haus museum in Bonn tells us that Friedrich Matthisson first published this poem in 1785 in Hamburg, under the title An Serena. In 1787 however the poem appeared unchanged in the first edition of Matthisson’s poems, under the new title An Laura.

Beethoven’s setting followed soon after – maybe as little as three years – and only the first and third verses were written out under the music in the autograph score. This is taken as an indication that the first part was to be repeated for the second verse.

Thoughts

The message from this song is positive to begin with, joyful even – and the soprano line carries nicely above flowing piano accompaniment. Beethoven gets quite chromatic with the melody towards the end of the first two verses, before a change of mood in the central section heightens the drama.

After that brief aside we return to the music of the opening, if not the mood – a scene at the grave casting a shadow over proceedings. It is as though Schubert and Mahler are waiting in the wings at this point.

Recordings used

Pamela Coburn (soprano), Leonard Hokanson (piano) (Capriccio)

Peter Schreier (tenor), Gisela Franke (piano) (Brilliant Classics)

Pamela Coburn brings a relatively rich soprano line to this song. Peter Schreier is a fair bit quicker, pushing the melody along.

Spotify links

Pamela Coburn, Leonard Hokanson

Peter Schreier, Gisela Franke

Also written in 1792 Sterkel 3 Violin Sonatas, StWV 198

Next up 14 Variations in E flat major Op.44