Listening to Beethoven #33 – Trinklied


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

Trinklied WoO 109 for voice, choir and piano (1790-92, Beethoven aged 21)

Dedication not known
Text Anonymous
Duration 1’30”

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

In her essay on Beethoven as a song composer for Deutsche Grammophon’s Beethoven: The New Complete Edition, Helga Lühning notes how ‘there was no period during his creative life where he did not explore the field of vocal music and write for the human voice’.

She writes how Lieder was the prime form of expression, but that Beethoven also turned to the ‘Gesellschaftslied’, the public form of the song. A typical example of the form would be for a soloist to sing the verse and a choir to respond with a chorus.

The Trinklied is the first of one of these settings, a drinking song with an anonymous text encouraging ‘Erhebt das Glas mit froher Hand und trinkt euch heitren Mut’ (‘Raise your glass with a glad hand and drink your hearty courage’)

Thoughts

A playful piano introduction trips down the stairs before a lusty bellow from the bass encourages everyone in the room to raise their glasses. Beethoven has the measure of the crowd, with everyone included in the enthusiastic response! Then it’s no doubt straight on to the next song…and drink…

Recordings used

Hermann Prey (baritone), Heinrich Schütz-Kreis Berlin, Leonard Hokanson (piano)

Peter Schreier (tenor), Gisela Franke (piano)

Hermann Prey is in very good voice here, and the choir respond with full bodied tones. Peter Schreier’s tenor version, set a good deal higher in pitch, is a little more chaste, and there is no choir to back him up. That said, his brighter tone rings out clearly.

Spotify links

Hermann Prey, Heinrich Schütz-Kreis Berlin, Leonard Hokanson

Peter Schreier, Gisela Franke

Also written in 1792 Haydn 150 Scottish Songs, Hob.XXXIa:1–150

Next up Punschlied WoO 110