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Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 · Overtures
01 Jul 2000
Originally recorded in 1999
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Birmingham Town Hall
Orchestral & Concertos
Total Time - 66:05
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LUDVIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Select Complete Single Disc for
Overture: 'The Creatures of Prometheus', Op. 43
Adagio - Allegro molto con brio
Overture: 'Coriolan', Op. 62
Allegro con brio
Overture: 'Lenora No. 3', Op. 72a
Adagio - Allegro
Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73
in E flat major
Adagio un poco mosso
This is a disc showcasing Beethoven’s famous Piano Concerto No. 5, the ‘Emperor’
The Piano Concerto is coupled with the Overtures from ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’, ‘Coriolan’ and ‘Leonora’, No. 3.
It is interesting to note that although Leonora was later given the more familiar title, Fidelio, Beethoven chose to leave the overtures with the original title which he was known to have preferred.
Deafness brought Beethoven’s career as a composer-cum-concerto soloists to a close. His Fifth Piano Concerto, known in Britain as ‘Emperor’, is an heroic work conceived in Beethoven’s loftiest vein by a man well versed in the heroic ideals of the ancient world. But it draws too on contemporary experience. In the spring of 1809 the French bombarded Vienna, an event that severely affected the composer – ‘What a disturbing, wild life there is around me. Nothing but drums, cannons, men, and misery of all sorts’. The Fifth Concerto rises magnificently above the fray. It is Beethoven’s capacity to surprise, disturb, shock and delight that makes this music so endlessly rewarding.
Beethoven’s ballet ‘The Creatures of Prometheus’ dates from 1801, shortly after the completion of the First Symphony and the Op. 18 Quartets. The original ballet disappeared and although some of the music fell into neglect – the finale bequeathed its theme to the last movement of the ‘Eroica’ – the overture became a favourite concert piece.
Beethoven’s desire to write an opera was continually frustrated. His proposed collaboration with the librettist Heinrich von Collin was prevented by his early death, although Beethoven had written the overture to Collin’s play ‘Coriolan’ four years earlier. Written in his favourite key of storm and stress, C minor, we witness, in an aural sense, the destruction of a hero but with no aftermath of triumph.
It is well documented that Beethoven composed three versions of ‘Fidelio’, dating from 1805, 1806 and 1814. To avoid confusion the earlier ones are known as ‘Leonora’, Beethoven’s own preferred title for the opera whose name is preserved in the three rejected overtures. ‘Leonora No. 3’ is the most substantial of the successive reworkings. It is a comprehensive revision of ‘Leonora No. 2’ in which Beethoven achieves a sonata-form shape and creates what has been called the ‘first and perhaps the greatest tone poem’.
‘…enthusiastically welcomed… What is remarkable about Lill’s performance is the realisation of the piano’s energy and vaunting majesty… fine spacious, yet vigorous performances of three overtures… confirm Weller as a joyfully warm Beethovian.’
‘…arguably England’s finest provincial orchestra, which poses a challenge to the ascendancy enjoyed by London’s various symphony orchestras.’
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