Monday, April 27, 2020

Beethoven 250: overtures * military music

Robert Alexander Hillingford: Wellington at Waterloo. Photo: Wikipedia.

Beethoven: The Complete Works (80 CD). Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven. Performers: various artists including: Artemis Quartet, Daniel Barenboim, Rudolf Buchbinder, Renaud Capuçon, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Otto Klemperer, Stephen Kovacevich, Yo-Yo Ma, Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, András Schiff, János Starker, Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
    "Jubiläums-Edition zum 250. Geburtstag im Deluxe-Packaging mit umfangreichem Begleitmaterial."
    "Doing full justice to Beethoven’s awe-inspiring, but profoundly humane genius, this is Warner Classics’ first-ever complete edition of his works. It draws discerningly on the riches of the label’s catalogue, assuring integrity by assigning entire cycles to the same artist, ensemble or team of performers. Classics from the age of the LP are complemented by the best of the CD era and by a wealth of new recordings of rarely heard works that are ripe for discovery. This is a comprehensive and deeply satisfying tribute to Beethoven, a transformative force who has enhanced the lives of music-lovers for more than two centuries.".
    Warner Classics / © 2019 Parlophone Records Limited.
    Compilation producer and editorial: Ray Granlund.
    Editorial assistant: Xenia Evans.
    Mastering: Isabelle Davy - Circé Studios, Paris.
    Graphic design: WLP, Ltd.
    An emphasis on complete cycles by a specific artist, ensemble or team of musicians. A particular feature of the box is continuity of the interpreter(s) throughout an entire cycle of works in the same musical genre / related genres.
    Some 300 tracks specially recorded for the box. These specially recorded tracks mostly comprise rarely heard works that are waiting to be discovered by a broader body of listeners. In the main these are piano works, choral works and songs.
    Booklet note by David Wyn Jones.
    The CD covers carry evocative paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, Josef Anton Koch and other German and Austrian artists of Beethoven’s time.
    Also available on Spotify etc.
    I bought my box set from Fuga at Helsinki Music Centre.
    Ludwig van Beethoven 1770–1827.
    Beethoven 250 / corona lockdown listening.

CD 11/80:
Opus 62: Coriolan-Ouvertüre (1807)
    Philharmonia Orchestra / Otto Klemperer, 1957
Opus 115: Namensfeier-Ouvertüre (1815)
    Swedish Chamber Orchestra Örebro / Thomas Dausgaard, 2002–2005
Opus 124: Ouvertüre „Die Weihe des Hauses“ (1822)
    Philadelphia Orchestra / Riccardo Muti, 1985
Opus 138: Ouvertüre Nr. 1 zur Oper Leonore (1807)
    Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim, 1999
WoO 2b: Introduction to Act II of Fidelio (1805 version) 1'57"
    Swedish Chamber Orchestra Örebro / Thomas Dausgaard, 2002–2005
Opus 91: Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vitoria (1813)
    Swedish Chamber Orchestra Örebro / Thomas Dausgaard, 2002–2005
WoO 18: Yorckscher Marsch Zapfenstreich No. 1, Marsch in F für Militärmusik (1809)
    The London Baroque Ensemble / Karl Haas, 1958
WoO 19: Zapfenstreich No. 3, Marsch in F No. 2 für Militärmusik
    The London Baroque Ensemble / Karl Haas, 1958
WoO 20: Zapfenstreich No. 2, Marsch in C für Militärmusik
    The London Baroque Ensemble / Karl Haas, 1958
WoO 21: Polonaise für Militärmusik in D-Dur
    Zentrales Orchester der Nationalen Volksarmee / Gerhard Baumann, 1970
WoO 22: Ecossaise für Militärmusik in D-Dur
    Zentrales Orchester der Nationalen Volksarmee / Gerhard Baumann, 1970
WoO 24: Militär-Marsch in D-Dur
    Zentrales Orchester der Nationalen Volksarmee / Gerhard Baumann, 1970

WoO = Werk ohne Opusnummer.

AA: From love to war: CD 10 in Warner Classics box set of Beethoven's complete works was dedicated to love. It is followed by CD 11 bringing together his military music. It is immediately obvious that Beethoven was a master of love music and only competent in martial topics.

The Coriolan Overture is one of the most heroic and magnificent compositions of Beethoven, powerfully conducted by Otto Klemperer on this collection. The overture was composed for a tragedy by Heinrich Joseph von Collin and not the famous play by Shakespeare which is about the same Roman leader from the period of the Roman Republic.

The Namensfeier Overture is jubilant, the Weihe des Hause Overture is festive, the first Leonore Overture is fine but understandably forgotten next to the incomparable third Leonore Overture.

Comes Wellington's Victory which was Beethoven's biggest hit and moneymaker. It is one of his most undistinguished works: a competent military jubileum composition with powerful drums and extended helpings of "Rule, Britannia!" (1740) for the British troops, "Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre" (composed before 1780) for the French side and "God Save the King" (1745) for the finale.

It is followed by six military marches which are brisk and perfect for their purpose. But after the Coriolan Overture there is nothing unforgettable on this CD.

I happened to listen to this military CD on Finland's National Veterans' Day, 27 April 2020. Finland has now lived 75 years in peace after many devastating wars. We remember gratefully the veterans who secured us the strongest hand possible in our quandary between Stalin and Hitler.

"Finnish soldiers raise the war flag at the three-country cairn between Norway, Sweden, and Finland on 27 April 1945, the end of World War II in Finland. The photograph was taken by the commander of Infantry Regiment 1, Colonel Väinö Oinonen. It became a widely circulated symbol of World War II in Finland." Photograph and caption from the English Wikipedia.

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