℗ © 2014 Mercury Classics Under exclusive license to Universal Music Classics, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
For all their surface differences, these two works, Beethoven’s towering final concerto and Schumann’s intense three-movement Fantasy, share a penchant for laying trails of musical allusions and personal associations. But as well as this connection, an added layer of Beethovenian references in the Schumann makes the solo piece a convincing partner for the concerto.
Beethoven’s work is bound up with the relationship with his most devoted patron, Archduke Rudolph, the youngest son of Emperor Leopold II. Rudolph was dedicatee of a host of major pieces, including the E flat concerto, and in March 1809 had clubbed together with two other aristocratic supporters of the composer to guarantee Beethoven an annuity, on the condition that he would not leave Vienna. But leave Vienna was precisely what the Archduke and the rest of the Imperial family had to do when Napoleon’s forces, rallying after a defeat by their newly declared Austrian enemies, advanced on the capital. By the time of the Archduke’s departure in May, Beethoven was already well advanced in the composition of the piano concerto; he now wrote the first movement of a piano sonata, in the same key of E flat, marked “Farewell”. Two further movements followed: “Absence” and finally “Return”, dated January 1810 (Rudolph returned on the 30th), and a reference to the unbounded joy of this finale made its way into the concerto’s third movement.
Beethoven, or rather his memory, was ostensibly the subject of a “Grand Sonata” that Schumann suggested to his publisher in December 1836. Consisting of three movements entitled “Ruins”, “Trophies” and “Palms”, it would be Schumann’s contribution to the call for donations for the erection of a Beethoven monument in the composer’s birthplace of Bonn.
Recorded January 2014 at Teldex Studios in Berlin, Germany; and January and February 2014 at the Berliner Philharmoniker in Berlin, Germany.
Yundi - Piano
Berliner Philharmoniker - Orchestra
Daniel Harding - Conductor
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Produced by Christoph Franke and Helmut Burk
Recorded by Rainer Maillard