Camerata Ireland with Barry Douglas
December 3, 2007 - 9 p.m.
Listen to the Podcast (36 MB)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, op. 19
Beethoven’s Concerto in B-flat underwent an extended period of completion involving more than an addition of a movement or the exploration of different instrumental combinations. Over a period of more than 20 years, beginning around 1787 and ending in 1809, Beethoven continued to revise and rewrite the same work, finding things to change each time he returned to it with the idea of publication or performance.
Barry Cooper gives an extensive history of this process, and identifies at least seven known stages of revision: the Bonn version circa 1787, the early Vienna score around 1793 with the original finale (published as the Rondo in B-flat Major, WoO6), a major overhaul with new finale and probably a new Adagio from 1794-1795, a score of 1798, a version in gray ink containing revised orchestral parts in 1800 after the concerto had been sold for publication, a published version of 1801 with a newly written revised piano part and the last version with a written-out cadenza in a more advanced style.
The extensive sketches for the last two movements in early 1795 indicate an imminent performance, most likely in the Imperial Royal Court Theater on March 29, 1795, at a regular concert of the local Tonkünstler-Gesellschaft (Society of Musical Artists). At that concert, the main work was an oratorio by Kapellmeister Kartellieri, titled "Joas, King of Judah." A review appeared the next day in the Wiener Zeitung: “As an intermezzo … the celebrated Herr Ludwig van Beethoven reaped the unanimous applause of the audience for his performance on the pianoforte of a completely new concerto composed by him.”
This was Beethoven’s public debut in Vienna as a pianist. Whether the concerto played was the B-flat or the C Major—which the composer in the meantime had composed—is a controversial issue. The same applies to the only other known performance in 1795, a December 18 concert in the Redoutensaal in which Haydn conducted three of his new Salomon Symphonies. The 1798 score, however, was conceivably written in Prague for a performance there of the B-flat concerto in October 1798.
The Leipzig publishers Hoffmeister & Kühnel purchased the concerto in December 1800, but the piano score was not done until April 1801. Beethoven did not need one; since he wrote the concerto for himself, he had his part memorized. This was a common practice designed to prevent other pianists from playing his concertos. In the meantime, the C-Major concerto was published in March 1801 as No. 1, op. 15. The publication of the B-Major concerto was further delayed because Beethoven started revising the orchestral parts but soon abandoned it: not only had he sold the concerto at half price, he had earlier confessed to Hoffmeister that it was not one of his best works. And so the piano concerto he actually wrote first was published in December 1801 as No. 2, op. 19.
In 1809, coincidentally the year he wrote his fifth and last piano concerto in E-flat Major, the “Emperor,” Beethoven wrote out cadenzas for his first four concertos. Finally, the Piano Concerto in B-flat Major was complete. Or was it? The published version, as far as the first movement at least, does not reflect the changes Beethoven had begun to make. Whatever answer one chooses, the Second Piano Concerto, Cooper concludes, provides an excellent illustration of how Beethoven’s creative process did not stop once he had written out a full score: his fertile mind was continually seeking, and was continually able to find, improvements to a work, and it was only lack of time that eventually persuaded him to call a halt and move on to his next project.
—Program notes for Beethoven concerto by concert producer Tomás C. Hernández
"Three Fantasies for Violin and Piano" comes from three seemingly very different inspirations, which led to the title of the work. The first fantasy, "Dream Song," is a short memory from what I had heard in a dream in which a violin and piano played a very simple tune. The second fantasy, "Tibetan Air," is inspired by a form of Tibetan folk song singing in which, vertically, the meter and rhythm seem to appear randomly, but horizontally the singing is presented in a very straightforward, long-breath motion. It might give the listener an unwieldy “wild” feeling; yet it is utterly attractive. This movement is followed without pause by the third fantasy, "Kazakhstan Love Song." This is based on a folk song I heard while traveling in the Chinese part of the Kazakhstan during the summer of 2000 when I was researching ethnic music along the ancient Silk Road Route. Although I did not understand the lyrics, I was immediately drawn by the sheer beauty and tinge of sadness in the melody.
Explore What's Behind the Music
Founded in 1999 by pianist Barry Douglas, Camerata Ireland brings together superb Irish musicians from all over the world to celebrate Ireland and its extraordinary musicmaking.
Barry Douglas is an Irish name instantly recognized in the world's finest concert halls, admired for performing with and conducting leading orchestras since his 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medal.
A strong champion of new music in particular, the virtuoso violinist Cho-Liang Lin has appeared with virtually every major orchestra in the world.
Pianist André-Michel Schub is well-known as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. With Cho-Liang Lin, he is an Artist Member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Excerpt from the holograph manuscript of Bright Sheng's "Three Fantasies for Violin and Piano," commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress and premiered by Cho-Liang Lin and Andre-Michel Schub at the Library on May 19, 2006.
View the Manuscript
Camerata Ireland brings Irish musicians together from all over the world to celebrate Ireland and its extraordinary wealth of musical talent. Founded in 1999 by Barry Douglas, the Camerata is entirely composed of exceptional Irish musicians, many of whom also play in top positions in major orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Hall Orchestra, the RTE Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.
Since its inaugural concerts at the Stormont Parliament buildings in Belfast and in Dublin Castle, Camerata Ireland has performed in China, Poland, England, France, Italy and Germany, as well as in the United States. Its tour of South American, with concerts in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, marked the first Irish classical music ensemble to visit those countries. The orchestra has released a critically-acclaimed recording of the complete Beethoven piano concertos, with Barry Douglas as soloist and conductor.
At the heart of Camerata Ireland's work is its commitment to the best of young Irish musical talent—from North and South. Each year, the orchestra funds 12 students for a week-long series of master classes. One exemplary artist is awarded the Camerata Ireland Young Musician of the Year Award with the opportunity to perform a concerto with the orchestra. This commitment to, and investment in, the musical future of Ireland is central to the mission of Camerata Ireland, which is honored to have the joint patronage of Mary McAleese, president of Ireland, and Queen Elizabeth II.
Camerata Ireland's Library of Congress concert was part of "Rediscover Northern Ireland," a special series of programs presented in Washington, D.C. by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure of the Northern Ireland Government.
Winner of the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Barry Douglas is recognized internationally as concerto soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, conductor and festival director. He has performed with practically every major orchestra, under such conductors as Ashkenazy, Davis, Jansons, Masur, Maazel, Slatkin, Temirkanov and Tilson Thomas, among others. His conducting engagements including leading the Orchestra of St. Cecilia in a complete Beethoven Symphony cycle at Dublin's National Concert Hall. Currently he is Artistic Director of the International Piano Festival at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Mr. Douglas received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2002 for his services to music.
Violinist Cho-Liang Lin's stellar career has included appearances with virtually every major orchestra in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw and the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras. Born in Taiwan in 1960, he studied in Sydney and New York City, where he was a student of Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. His recordings—featuring partners including Yefim Bronfman, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin and Michael Tilson Thomas, have been critcially acclaimed—winning several Grammy nominations and Gramophone's Record of the Year award. Lin is a strong champion of new music, both as a performer and a presenter; he is Artistic Director of the La Jolla SummerFest series. He has premiered works by Tan Dun, Joel Hoffman, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Elie Siegmeister, George Tsontakis, George Walker and Chen Yi, with notable recordings of Aaron Jay Kernis' Concerto for Violin and Guitar, with Sharon Isbin, and concertos by Chen Yi and Christopher Rouse.
A forthcoming Naxos recording (winter, 2008) will feature Bright Sheng's "Three Fantasies for Violin and Piano," a co-commission of the Library of Congress and the La Jolla Music Society.
Lin is a member of the faculty at the Juilliard School of Music and at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
Pianist André-Michel Schub has given solo recitals recently in Washington, D.C. and in Phoenix, as well as joint recitals with violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and trio concerts with David Shifrin and Ani Kavafian. He is currently engaged in a special Mozart recording project to commemorate the 10th season of the Virginia Arts Festival, where he has been artistic director of the chamber music series since 1997.
Schub appears frequently as guest artist with Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Ravinia and Blossom festivals. He has performed with major orchestras, including the Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis and Cleveland and Philadelphia symphony orchestras and the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics and the Royal Concertgebouw. He is an artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Last Updated: 12/20/2007