A 2003 FanFaire/Naxos CD Giveaway
A delightful introduction to Beethoven's chamber music by
Two Outstanding WOMEN in MUSIC




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Beethoven: Music for Cello and Piano, Vol. 2
Maria Kliegel, cello and Nina Tichman, Piano
Variations on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte, Op. 66
Sonata in E flat major for cello and piano, Op. 64
Sonata No. 3 in A major for cello and piano, Op. 69
NAXOS # 8.555786 (2003)

This month's CD Giveaway is a delightfully easy introduction to Beethoven's chamber music - which constitutes the greater part of the great composer's works (See Beethoven's compositions). The compositions for cello and piano are played by two of today's leading women musicians Maria Kliegel (cellist) and Nina Tichman (pianist) - both acclaimed masters of their crafts.

By chance, or perhaps by the performers' own conscious choice - both musicians having strong pedagogic interests - the selections on the CD serve to educate the listener on the two most important musical forms that Beethoven used to express his oft-emotionally-laden musical ideas: variations and the sonata.

The CD opens with a Mozartean theme: Beethoven's seldom heard Variations on "Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen" (a girl or a little wife) - a song from one of Mozart's most beloved operas, the enchanting Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). The melody is taken from the bird-catcher Papageno's charming wish-song: unworthy of the enlightenment that awaits Prince Tamino, he wishes for a little wife of his own. The variations underscore the fact that while he lived in revolutionary times Beethoven was no iconoclast and indeed was quite open to adapting material from the masters of the past.

Listen to tracks 1-13, and you will never again be unsure of what the term "variation" means.

(Click to hear some excerpts: Variation I; / Variation III; / Variation VII.)

It is the "morphing" from within, if you will, of a single melody through changes in harmony, rhythm or some other musical element, that (voila!) yields a series of transformations - at times clever, playful, whimsical and at other times richly expressive - rather like a musical kaleidoscope reflecting a fascinating pattern of thematically related sounds.

These variations are, structurally, the artistic opposite of the CD's main entrees: the Sonatas for Cello and Piano - in E flat major, Op. 64; and in A major No. 3, Op. 69. The element of drama is built into the more complex framework of the sonata form which consists of an organic progression of three or more movements that vary - indeed, sometimes contrast - in theme, tempo and mood. Click below to listen to some excerpts, and you'll get an idea of what the sonata form (in contrast to the variation form) is all about:

Op. 64 - Allegro con brio (track 14) / Op. 64 - Adagio (track 17) / Op. 64 - Finale: Allegro (track 19)

An interesting note about this particular sonata: While it was published in Beethoven's lifetime as an arrangement drawn from his String Trio, Opus 3 (which in turn possibly resulted from a commission for a string quartet), the markings on the title page did not specifically name Beethoven as the arranger, raising doubts about its authenticity. Nonetheless, it is a masterly arrangement and a case could be made that, at the very least, it passed muster with the master.

About the authenticity of the final piece on the CD there is no question. It was dedicated to Baron Ignaz von Gleichenstein, Beethoven's close friend, his ally in business and in courtship. The friendship ended when the Baron married the object of Beethoven's affection - could it be why Beethoven autographed the sonata with the words "Amid tears and sorrow"?

Again, listen to an excerpt from the final movement -

Op. 69 - Allegro vivace (track 23) -

played with the mastery and aplomb manifest in all the selections by the dynamic duo of Kliegel and Tichman.

Click for more information on BEETHOVEN / MOZART & THE MAGIC FLUTE.

Enter to WIN THIS CD.


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