Sunday, May 19, 2024

Beethoven's Cadenza

Beethoven's Cadenza

Cadenza for Beethoven Violin Concerto 




I collected another version of Beethoven Violin Concerto: a 2006 recording, with Isabelle Faust as the soloist, Jiri Belohlavek conducting The Prague Philharmonia. The performer, conductor and orchestra are not familiar to me, but the recording label harmonia mundi is no stranger to me. Harmonia mundi has good recording quality and this recording is no exception.

Every time when I am getting a Beethoven Violin Concerto I will be looking at the cadenza used over and above the soloist and the orchestra. The CD booklet of this recording does not indicate the version of the cadenza used. After listening to the recording I realised that the not common Beethoven version of the cadenza was used.

Beethoven completed his violin concerto op61 in 1806. He then later transcribed a piano version of it, the op 61a. He wrote 4 cadenzas for the piano version of the concerto. The first cadenza is a long and elaborate one at the end of the first movement involving timpani in a high key manner; the second cadenza links the second movement to the third movement; the third one at the exposition portion of the third movement; and the final cadenza just before the end of the third movement.

Interesting enough Beethoven did not write any cadenzas for the violin version of the concerto. Personally I much prefer the version by Kreisler. I find this version blends nicely with the original themes and yet allows the violinist to show off technical skills. Nevertheless, to use a cadenza written by the original composer is definitely meaningful in a way. This Isabelle recording again rekindles my interest in Beethoven’s cadenza. I have 3 other version of recordings using the Beethoven version of the cadenza or slight variation of the cadenza.


First recording is by tnc Recordings. The label and the performers are all not familiar to me. This is the only CD set that provides recordings for both the op61 and the op61a, both using cadenza by Beethoven. The performance and the recording are of good standard.



Second recording is by Deutsche Grammophon. Soloist is Wolfgang Schneiderhan, supported by Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Eugen Jochum. Schneiderhan transcribed the piano version of the cadenza for the violin concerto.



Another recording is by Teldec. Gidon Kremer being the soloist, supported by The Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The cadenza was transcribed by Kremer. Kremer not only used timpani, he also included a portion played by a piano at the back stage.

Isabelle, Schneiderhan and Kremer all transcribed the four cadenzas by Beethoven for the violin concerto. For tnc recording, the Cadenza was transcribed by L. Bulatow and only 3 of the 4 cadenza were used. For the tnc recording, Oleh Krysa is the violin soloist, and Mykola Suk is the Piano soloist. The orchestra is Kiev Camerata conducted by Virko Baley. The piano version of the concerto essentially is the direct transcription of the violin version, with the right hand playing the lead violin part and the left hand playing low key and straight forward accompaniment. There are also people who based on the piano version of the concerto deduce that the tempo of the violin concerto should be in a rather fast pace (like the interpretation by Heifetz), otherwise too slow a tempo would make the piano part in the first movement too trivial.

For those who are keen on Beethoven’s own cadenza for his great violin concerto, these few recordings should not disappoint you.



The great Beethoven violin concerto

Chinese Version



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