October 8 poster.png

 PROGRAM

 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony no. 7 in A major, Opus 92 (1811-12)

INTERMISSION

Beethoven/Yamprai

Alle Menschen Werden Bruder, A Fantasia on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy for Asian Ensemble

Beethoven

Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra in C Major, Opus 56 (“Triple”) (1804)

PROGRAM NOTES

by Hanguang Wang

and Dr. Jittapim Yamprai

 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony no. 7 in A major, Opus 92 (1811-12)

 

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 was composed in 1811-12, and was premiered with Beethoven himself conducting in Vienna in December 1813, as a part of a benefit concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau. Beethoven introduced the concert saying: "We are moved by nothing but pure patriotism and the joyful sacrifice of our powers for those who have sacrificed so much for us."

Unlike some of Beethoven's works, the Seventh Symphony was immediately popular and was repeated several times in the weeks after its premiere. The second movement was particularly well-loved, and in some early performances the audience often broke out in applause before the third movement. Throughout the 19th Century, and even today, the second movement is often performed separately.

The Seventh Symphony is written in the standard four-movement form, with the theme of "heroes and people" running throughout the work in a tone of joy and celebratory delight. The audiences are always impressed by the ambition of the first movement, beauty of the second, the breathlessness of the scherzo, and relentless energy of the last movement. Beethoven himself called it "one of the happiest products of my poor talents."

Without too much dramatic conflict and struggle, Beethoven focuses on the triumph and joy of the victorious people, a piece filled with dance-like motives, and overflowing with energy and vitality. It is a work that often preferred to be called a "dance symphony". Richard Wagner described it as "the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mold of tone. "

Alle Menschen Werden Bruder, A Fantasia on Beethoven’s Ode to Joy for Asian Ensemble

 

Alle Menschen Werden Bruder is a Fantasia piece based on the famous theme of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the Ninth Symphony. The piece is written for the Asian traditional ensemble, comprised of eight musicians on ten instruments drawn from various regions of Asia, including Middle eastern duduk (double reed oboe); South Asian sitar (lute); East Asian Japanese koto (zither), shamisen (lute), shime-daiko (drum) and Chinese erhu (fiddle); Southeast Asian klui (bamboo flute), khim (hammer dulcimer), saw uu (fiddle), and ton/ramana (a pair of drum).

 

Instead of the typical structure of theme and variations, the “Ode to Joy” motive and fragments are presented in various melodic modes and instrumental idioms of Asian cultures and compiled in a fantasy style. The theme is revealed at the closing section, in which all traditional instruments are playing together, displaying unity as Schiller’s poem, which inspired and provided the text for Beethoven’s original composition, declares: Alle Menschen Werden Bruder  — “All men are brothers.”

Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra in C Major, Opus 56 (“Triple”) (1804)

Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, Op. 56, often referred to as the “Triple Concerto”, was composed in 1803 and later published in 1804, during his most prolific period. Some famous from this time includes the “Eroica” Symphony, the “Waldstein” and the “Appasionata” piano sonatas, and his “Rasumovsky” string quartets.

The “Triple Concerto” was allegedly written for Beethoven’s teenaged pupil and patron, the Archduke Rudolph of Austria, a pianist, and amateur composer. He remained a lifelong friend and was the only person to whom Beethoven gave regular instruction in composition. Beethoven’s plan for this concerto might have been for Rudolf to perform a showy but relatively easy piano part, supported by two more mature and skilled soloists, sharing the glory of the stage together.

In the Classical period, there was a popular genre known as the sinfonia concertante for two or more soloists with orchestral accompaniment, but no one had previously experimented with the combination of piano, violin, and cello. There is no doubt that the "Triple Concerto", which serves as a precedent, demonstrates the playfulness with which the composer approached the unique potential of the triple concerto. Moreover, the cello often seems to be a neglected player in the group concertos, always inaudible under the violin and piano, sucked into the orchestra. In this concerto, however, the cellist introduces each melody, often in its upper register. From there, you can always hear the cello part and it is prominent.

“Triple Concerto” is not a work that overly flaunts the soloist's virtuosity, and it is played with less bravado than composer’s other famous works. It seems to lack Beethoven's usual majestic or intense style, but it has both the intimacy of chamber music and the grandeur of a concerto, allowing audiences to appreciate another side of Beethoven's warmth.