Beethoven: Leonore Overture - Reinecke: Flute Concerto in D Major

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Beethoven: Leonore Overture - Reinecke: Flute Concerto in D Major 39:14 $11.98
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1 Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72B 14:47 44.1/16 Album only
2 Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283: I. Allegro molto moderato 9:15 44.1/16 Album only
3 Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283: II. Lento e mesto 8:00 44.1/16 Album only
4 Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 283: III. Finale: Moderato 7:12 44.1/16 Album only

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Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b Reinecke Flute Concerto in D major, Op. 283 Christoph Eschenbach Conductor Jeffrey Khaner Flute Recorded live September 21, 2005 (Leonore Overture No. 3); September 27, 2007 (Reinecke); Verizon Hall, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b Composed in 1806 Ludwig Van Beethoven Born in Bonn, Probably December 16, 1770 Died in Vienna, March 26, 1827 A trumpet call of freedom concludes this first concert of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 106th season. The most famous of the four overtures that Beethoven wrote for his lone opera Fidelio, the so-called Leonore Overture No. 3 summarizes in the space of some 14 minutes the dramatic and emotional trajectory of the entire opera, from the dark depths of the orchestra to the ultimate triumph of the thrilling coda. In the midst of the Overture a trumpet sounds from the distance, just as it will in the crucial scene near the end of the opera announcing the arrival of the enlightened minister Don Fernando that secures freedom for the unjustly imprisoned political hero Florestan. The urgency of the Overture, especially of this signal of liberation, resonates with Beethoven’s own deeply held political beliefs. Beethoven and Enlightenment Values Throughout his career, Beetho ven was a fervent believer in Enlightenment values and found various ways to express them in music, as he did in letters and other writings. He grew up during the American and French revolutions and experienc ed war first hand when Napoleon’s troops invaded Vienna in 1805 and 1809. His first large composition, written at the age of 19, was an impressive 40- minute cantata for chorus, orchestra, and soloists commemorating the death of Emperor Joseph II, who had done much to liberalize the Austrian empire in the 1780s. Enlightenment ideals would later find expression in the political messages of Fidelio, Egmont , and the larger humanistic vision of the Ninth Symphony. Beethoven in fact recycled some of the Joseph Cantata music years later in Fidelio, a work he struggled with for years. Its premiere in November 1805 (with the Leonore Overture No. 2) was unsuccessful for various reasons, some artistic and some political. For one thing, Napoleon’s troops had just invaded the city and they accounted for much of the audience. Beethoven revised the opera the next year, shortening its three acts to two, and for the new production wrote the Third Leonore Overture, a recasting of the earlier one, which also contains the trumpet call. He wrote the First Leonore Overture in 1807, probably for a planned production in Prague that never materialized. In 1814, when Beethoven was at the height of his popular and critical success, he revised the opera yet again and wrote yet another new overture, this one quite short, omitting the trumpet call, and, unlike the previous three Leonore overtures, without any direct musical allusions to melodies in the opera. The most likely reason Beethoven ultimately substituted the Fidelio Overture that opens the opera as we know it today is that the Leonore Third in particular does such an effective job of conveying the dramatic sweep of the opera in purely orchestral terms—he may have felt it lessened the power of the following theatrical representation. Donald Francis Tovey, the brilliant English music critic, argued that the revision of Overture “profited in a fatal way, which raised it to one of the greatest instrumental works in existence, and at the same time ensured that it would absolutely kill the first act … it is about ten times as dramatic as anything that could possibly be put on the stage.” A Closer Look Beethoven’s opera is today the best known of the once popular genre of “rescue operas.” Leonore, disguised as Fidelio, apprentices herself to the jailer, Rocco, in the hope that she will be able to free her husband, Florestan, an unjustly condemned political prisoner. Although she is not even sure he is still alive, she heroically risks her life to save his. On orders from the evil Pizzaro, she and Rocco descend to the dungeon to kill Florestan, but she reveals her identity, to the amazement of everyone, just as he is to die. At this moment the trumpet sounds in the distance, indicating the arrival of Don Fernando. It later became the custom in many productions of Fidelio, popularized by Mahler, Toscanini, and other conductors, to insert the Leonore Third Overture at this point. (In some instances the addition serves the practical purpose of filling time as the scenery changes from the dungeon to the triumphal concluding scene outdoors where evil is exposed, Florestan liberated, and Leonore praised.) The Overture begins with a slow descending scale that may relate in some way to Florestan’s imprisonment; in any case, out of this follows a theme alluding to his aria “In des Lebens Frühlingstagen” (In the springtime of my life), in which he sings of the price he paid for speaking the truth and envisions an angel resembling Leonore leading him to freedom in heaven. This theme is transformed later in the Overture, in the allegro section, and yet again in the triumphant presto coda that concludes the work. The trumpet call interrupts twice in the middle of the development section, separated by music derived from the thankful music Leonore and Florestan sing immediately after the trumpet announcing their salvation at the end of the first scene of act 2 (“Ach! Du bist gerettet! Grosser Gott!” [Ah! You are saved! Almighty God!]). A thrilling presto coda brings the Overture to a triumphant close. —Christopher H. Gibbs Program note © 2005. All rights reserved. Program note may not be reprinted without written permission from The Philadelphia Orchestra Association. Flute Concerto in D major, Op. 283 Composed in 1908 Carl Reinecke Born in Altona, Denmark (now part of Germany), June 23, 1824 Died in Leipzig, March 10, 1910 Of the late-19th-century composers who held on to the Romantic tradition, no one grasped it more tenaciously than Carl Reinecke. His works are evidence that not all post-Wagnerian musicians in Germany felt compelled to pursue increased dissonance, hypertrophic musical forms, and philosophical angst. Indeed, throughout his career Reinecke composed as if the prevailing musical style had not changed at all since the time of Mendelssohn and Schumann. The early-Romantic style that Reinecke upheld was one that he knew first-hand from his youth. But his resolute conservatism is all the more remarkable given his exposure to subsequent developments in musical style over the next three-quarters of a century. Reinecke was born the same year of the premiere of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, yet he died after Arnold Schoenberg’s abandonment of tonality in the Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16, and Erwartung. Through all this, Reinecke maintained a fundamental respect for tradition that informed all his musical activities—he was also a performer, teacher, conductor, and administrator—not just composition. Pianist and Pedagogue Reinecke’s early musical training in piano and theory came from his father, who was himself a musician and author of several important textbooks on music theory. The young Reinecke made his debut on piano at the age of 11, and before long moved to Leipzig to study at the Conservatory, where he met Mendelssohn and Schumann. After graduating he embarked on a successful tour of Scandinavia, and accepted a position as court pianist in Copenhagen. (Coincidentally, Reinecke’s birth town of Altona was, at the time, part of Denmark, though he was himself of German heritage.) Throughout his life Reinecke continued to perform as a concert pianist, though his performance style eschewed the flashy virtuoso displays that dominated the late 19th century. His was one of the last exponents of classical performing style that focused on grace and clarity, not showy technique, and it’s significant that he was considered a leading exponent of Mozart’s piano works. But Reinecke’s aesthetic conservatism did not alienate him from some of the more innovative musicians of his day. For all its restraint, his performance style impressed virtuoso pianists such as Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt (who described his touch as “beautiful, gentle, legato, and lyrical”). When Reinecke moved to Paris, he even gave piano lessons to Liszt’s daughter, Cosima, who would later marry Richard Wagner. After Paris, Reinecke taught in Cologne and Breslau, then moved to Leipzig in 1860. In addition to his teaching duties at the Conservatory, he assumed the conductorship of the Gewandhaus Orchestra—a position he held for the next 35 years. Reinecke’s reputation as a teacher and administrator eventually led to his appointment as director of the Leipzig Conservatory in 1897, and through his rejuvenating influence he helped make the Conservatory again one of the most important music schools in Europe. His students in Leipzig included Arthur Sullivan, Felix Weingartner, Max Bruch, Leoš Janáček, Isaac Albéniz, and perhaps most notoriously Edvard Grieg, who bristled at the conservatism and orthodoxy Reinecke fostered, and claimed later that he learned “absolutely nothing” there. Prolific Composer As a composer, Reinecke was prodigious. He wrote a handful of operas and symphonies, five string quartets, and other chamber works with piano. But he excelled especially in the smaller genres, and solo piano works dominate his oeuvre. Many of his pieces fall under the heading of Hausmusik, or works intended for performance in the home by family and friends—a genre especially popular among the German middle classes of the 19th century. Despite his obvious preference for solo piano, Reinecke’s most performed works include a number of pieces for flute. He wrote a cadenza for Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, K. 299, that has become a standard, and his most popular piece currently is the Sonata for Flute and Piano (“Undine”). The Flute Concerto in D major, Op. 283, one of the last major works he wrote (along with his final composition, the Ballade for flute and orchestra, Op. 288), is practically the only “Romantic” style flute concerto in the current performing repertory. That it was not composed until 1908, after Reinecke had retired from administrative and teaching duties, gives some idea of the composer’s tremendous commitment to traditionalism. But as Reinecke’s most popular orchestral work, it stands as evidence of his lyricism, craftsmanship, subtle ear for melody, and innate talent for orchestration. A Closer Look The three movements of the Concerto are different in character, but all are written in variants of traditional sonata-allegro form. The 6/8 time signature of the first movement (Allegro molto moderato) hints at a flowing barcarolle, and the flute’s amiable entry with a short recitativo passage indicates a relatively blithe bearing for the work. At the flute’s next entry, Reinecke marks the score with the only German indication in the entire piece—wie träumend—perhaps a personal note to himself that emphasizes his impressions of the movement’s dream-like quality. After the traditionally-conceived development and recapitulation, the energetic coda winds down to repeat the opening chords, and the solo flute returns with its initial recitative, framing the entire movement like the endpapers of a delightful fairy tale. The middle movement (Lento e mesto)—a slow lament that begins in B minor—draws inspiration from the operatic aria styles of Bellini and Donizetti, and is cast in a variant form, sometimes referred to as “slow-movement sonata form,” that omits the development section. As is customary in the bel canto mode, the orchestra plays simple accompanimental chords under the solo flute’s plaintive, vocally-conceived melody. A second, happier theme in D major is interrupted by a dramatic orchestral interlude, and a flute passage marked quasi recitative reinforces the connection with operatic models. Both themes return in the tonic key, but the second theme comes back in B major—complete with a change of key signature. The finale (Moderato) begins with a transitional passage, returning to the B-minor key of the middle movement, and a restrained rhythmic progression suggests a mournful sarabande. But the harmonies gradually shift back to D major, and at the flute entrance the movement’s temperament brightens considerably, becoming even more lithe than the moderato tempo indication might suggest. In this sonata-rondo, both of the contrasting episodes are reprised in the tonic key at the movement’s conclusion, and a brief coda rounds out the sparkling showpiece. —Luke Howard Program note commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra Association; © 2007 Luke Howard ABOUT THE ARTIST One of today’s leading international conductors, Christoph Eschenbach continues his creative artistic partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra in his fifth season as music director. Held in highest esteem by the world’s foremost orchestras and opera houses for his commanding presence, versatility, and consummate musicianship, Mr. Eschenbach has been acclaimed for his creative insight and dynamic energy as a conductor, a collaborator, and an ardent champion of young musicians. His 2007-08 Orchestra season celebrates such monumental works as Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”)—part of the Orchestra’s multi-season first-ever Mahler cycle—and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. In addition to his work with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Eschenbach continues as music director of the Orchestre de Paris. His guest conducting engagements this season include the London Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hamburg NDR Symphony, and the Curtis Symphony. A prolific recording artist, Mr. Eschenbach has made numerous recordings, as conductor, pianist, or both. His discography includes works from J.S. Bach to music of our time, and he has been an ardent champion of 20th-century music on disc. Before turning to conducting, Mr. Eschenbach had earned a distinguished reputation as a concert pianist. He began winning major competitions at age 11, and made his United States debut in 1969 with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Eschenbach learned the art of conducting under, among others, Mr. Szell, who personally took him as his protégé, and with whom he worked for over three years. In addition, Herbert von Karajan was his mentor for nearly 25 years, and Mr. Eschenbach credits him as having had a tremendous influence on his development as a conductor. Mr. Eschenbach’s conducting debut was in Hamburg in 1972. He made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut as a pianist in 1973; his Philadelphia conducting debut was in 1989. He was named principal guest conductor of Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchestra in 1981, serving as chief conductor from 1982 to 1986. Additional posts include music director of the Houston Symphony (1988-1999); chief conductor of the Hamburg NDR Symphony (1998-2004); music director of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (1999-2002); and music director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony (1994-2003). Among Mr. Eschenbach’s awards are the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, the Légion d’honneur of France, the Officer’s Cross with Star and Ribbon of the German Order of Merit, the Commander’s Cross of the German Order of Merit, and the Leonard Bernstein Award, presented to him by the Pacific Music Festival, where he served as co-artistic director from 1992 to 1998. Additional information about Mr. Eschenbach can be found at his website, www.christoph-eschenbach.com. 9/2007 PRODUCTION CREDITS Producer: Charles Gagnon Balance Engineer: Charles Gagnon Recording Engineer: Charles Gagnon Editor: Charles Gagnon Bio Photo: Jessica Griffin