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Cello Sonata No.4 in C major Op. 102/1

Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)

Leonard Elschenbroich

Leonard Elschenbroich

Composer
Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Composition Year
1815
Work Movements
1. Andante
2. Allegro vivace
3. Adagio
4. Allegro vivace
Artists
Leonard Elschenbroich [cello], Alexei Grynyuk [piano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

One of Beethoven's most loyal and valued friends was the Countess Marie Erdödy. She seems to have been a talented pianist herself and she employed resident music teachers for her three children including the cellist Joseph Linke and the violinist Joseph Brauchle. Beethoven took lodgings in her house in 1815, where he wrote the two Opus 70 piano trios and he became something of a family friend. She was separated from her husband but there does not seem to have been any hint of a romantic relationship between them. Some of Beethoven's letters to her have survived and he was clearly deeply upset when she moved away from Vienna. The playfully ironic nature of their friendship can be seen in a poetic request she sent him to remain in their house.

Apollo's chief son, Greatest of great spirits,

The first master in composition, now known to Europe,

To whom even Apollo yields,

And, from the throne of the Muses, rewards with his crown.

Hear our request,

Remain today in our midst - thou great man Beethoven,

Give fiat to our hopes.

[signed] The old Marie

             The young Marie

             The unique Fritzi

             August ditto

             Magister ipse

             The cursed cello

             The old Baron of the Empire

             The Chief Bailiff

 

Clearly Beethoven was very much part of their family circle, knowing the three children by their nicknames. The two cello sonatas from Opus 102 were written for the cursed cello, Joseph Linke, and the old Marie, the Countess herself, to play. Linke became part of Beethoven's musical circle as a member of Schuppanzigh's famous quartet and he was also part of the team that premiered Schubert's great E flat Trio in January 1828, so he must have been a fine chamber musician.

 

Although technically in four movements, the sonata more accurately consists of two movements each with an extended slow introduction. A feature of Beethoven's later years was his willingness to experiment in all sorts of ways with the number and form of movements. This sonata seems to work on many different levels being written on the one hand for enjoyment in the family circle and, on the other hand, as a testing piece for a very fine cellist.

 

The opening Andante is a gentle reflection on an easy-going melody that gives both players an opportunity to be quietly expressive. This leads directly into a vigorous Allegro that is perfectly written for the two instruments with a flawless balance between the partners. The second half of the work begins with a recitative-like Adagio that builds the tension up before it can be released in the high jinks of the final movement. This helter-skelter Allegro very vivace is enormous fun, with its catch-me-if-you-can game built around sudden melodramatic pauses. There is definitely a feeling here that Beethoven is writing for the entertainment of his friend's family and for the huge enjoyment of the musicians.

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Cello Sonata No.4 in C major Op. 102/1

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Performance date: Sunday 30th June 2013
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Work Title Cello Sonata No.4 in C major Op. 102/1
Composition Year 1815
Work Movements 1. Andante
2. Allegro vivace
3. Adagio
4. Allegro vivace
Artist(s) Leonard Elschenbroich [cello], Alexei Grynyuk [piano]
Performance Date Sunday 30th June 2013
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 00:15:16
Recording Engineer Damian Chennells, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation vc, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

One of Beethoven's most loyal and valued friends was the Countess Marie Erdödy. She seems to have been a talented pianist herself and she employed resident music teachers for her three children including the cellist Joseph Linke and the violinist Joseph Brauchle. Beethoven took lodgings in her house in 1815, where he wrote the two Opus 70 piano trios and he became something of a family friend. She was separated from her husband but there does not seem to have been any hint of a romantic relationship between them. Some of Beethoven's letters to her have survived and he was clearly deeply upset when she moved away from Vienna. The playfully ironic nature of their friendship can be seen in a poetic request she sent him to remain in their house.

Apollo's chief son, Greatest of great spirits,

The first master in composition, now known to Europe,

To whom even Apollo yields,

And, from the throne of the Muses, rewards with his crown.

Hear our request,

Remain today in our midst - thou great man Beethoven,

Give fiat to our hopes.

[signed] The old Marie

             The young Marie

             The unique Fritzi

             August ditto

             Magister ipse

             The cursed cello

             The old Baron of the Empire

             The Chief Bailiff

 

Clearly Beethoven was very much part of their family circle, knowing the three children by their nicknames. The two cello sonatas from Opus 102 were written for the cursed cello, Joseph Linke, and the old Marie, the Countess herself, to play. Linke became part of Beethoven's musical circle as a member of Schuppanzigh's famous quartet and he was also part of the team that premiered Schubert's great E flat Trio in January 1828, so he must have been a fine chamber musician.

 

Although technically in four movements, the sonata more accurately consists of two movements each with an extended slow introduction. A feature of Beethoven's later years was his willingness to experiment in all sorts of ways with the number and form of movements. This sonata seems to work on many different levels being written on the one hand for enjoyment in the family circle and, on the other hand, as a testing piece for a very fine cellist.

 

The opening Andante is a gentle reflection on an easy-going melody that gives both players an opportunity to be quietly expressive. This leads directly into a vigorous Allegro that is perfectly written for the two instruments with a flawless balance between the partners. The second half of the work begins with a recitative-like Adagio that builds the tension up before it can be released in the high jinks of the final movement. This helter-skelter Allegro very vivace is enormous fun, with its catch-me-if-you-can game built around sudden melodramatic pauses. There is definitely a feeling here that Beethoven is writing for the entertainment of his friend's family and for the huge enjoyment of the musicians.