29. Herbert Schuch Plays Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto
Maison symphonique de Montréal
“Schuch’s mastery of colour and of summoning up the composers’ creative individuality shines different lights on his invocatory stimulus, and the entire recital is much more than the sum of its parts.” – Gramophone
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3 was premiered on April 5, 1803, on a mammoth program that also featured his first two symphonies. Beethoven himself played piano, although he had no time to fully transcribe his part, leaving his page-turner to decipher empty pages with incomprehensible scribbles on them. The work begins with an orchestral introduction summarizing the whole Allegro con brio with its dramatic first and romantic second theme; the movement ends with piano and orchestra together at last. The ensuing Largo begins with a sustained, shimmering hymn that an 1803 audience member called “holy, distant, and celestial Harmony.” The decorative filigree of this movement extends all the way to 124th notes for the piano, supported by muted strings. In the final Rondo, an extensive coda shifts into C major and buoyant 6/8 time, ending the concerto with pianistic fireworks.
Bizet’s “Farandole” originally appeared as incidental music for Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne, the story of a young man who falls for an unfaithful woman from Arles; the farandole is a traditional chain dance of the Arles region in southern France. In this excerpt from the subsequent orchestral suite, an initial minor melody—brisk and almost martial—alternates with a bright, rushing tune led by the flutes, until the two themes come together, both in major, for a triumphant conclusion to the dance.
© Ariadne Lih
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