BAM 2032
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The Emperor

the belair collection

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73.  Beethoven completed his Fifth Piano Concerto in 1809, the year in which Napoleon and his all-conquering Armée attacked and took Vienna. In a cellar of a friend’s house the composer tied pillows over his head because he wanted to save what little was left of his hearing. The Emperor Concerto was not so named after Napoleon; in fact this nickname did not derive from Beethoven and is only used in English-speaking countries. It is said to have been coined by the piano-making composer and music publisher, J.B. Cramer, a German who settled in Britain. Cramer regarded the work as an emperor among concertos. Few would deny this claim, the Concerto being magnificent, its first movement splendid and triumphant, the slow movement spellbindingly beautiful, the finale exuberant, exultant and nobly expansive.

Although the “Emperor” was finished in 1809, it was not given its first performance until two years later, on 28 November, 1811. Considering Beethoven’s fame by this time, the long delay must have been due to the troubled times in which it was completed. Beethoven dedicated his new Concerto to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, his pupil, patron and friend.

Beethoven was now too deaf to give the Concerto its first performance, therefore he wrote the solo part out in full, which he had not done in the past because he had been his own soloist at his premières. The pianist entrusted with the all-important first performance was Friedrich Schneider, and the orchestra was the very fine Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, conducted by Johann Schultz. The performance was a great triumph for Beethoven and the influential newspaper, Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung wrote “…the first audience was so enthusiastic that it could hardly content itself with ordinary signs of recognition and enjoyment”.

Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” in B minor D.759. Despite its name the “Unfinished” Symphony has been a repertory piece since its first performance in 1865. The Symphony has just two complete movements, but they are indeed complete with Schubert’s own detailed orchestration containing some of his most beautiful and expressive music. Curiously enough the work ends in the ‘wrong key’ of E major, but we know that the composer intended to continue it with a scherzo (and surely a finale too). However, as it is, the Symphony does not sound incomplete in the sense of leaving us unsatisfied.

The “Unfinished” Symphony is a relatively mature work of exquisite lyrical beauty and intensity and is often referred to as “the torso” because, like a Greek torso, it is incomplete. However, this in no way detracts from its beauty. The Symphony evokes a mysterious, dreamy mood that pervades – particularly in the gentler second movement, which ends on a note of utter serenity. The two completed movements of the Symphony are dated 30 October, 1822. In the following year Schubert sent the score to his friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner. Unbelievably, Hüttenbrenner kept the score to himself for over 40 years, maybe, being a second-rate composer he had grown jealous of Schubert’s success. Finally, however, in 1865 Hüttenbrenner was persuaded to hand it over to Johann Herbeck, the conducter of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and he duly performed the work in Vienna on the 17 December 1865. It was greeted with rapturous applause by the audience and critics alike.


    Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
        Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op.73.
         1. Allegro                                   21:26
         2. Adagio un poco mosso              9:13
         3. Allegro ma non troppo             11:30


               Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
                      Symphony No. 8 "Unfinished"
                      in B minor D.759

                      4. Allegro moderato           14:01
                      5. Andante con moto moto   9:50


Total playing time 66:35

Oksoo Han, Piano
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Dmitry Yablonsky, Conductor

MPEG3 sound sample
Free MP3 sample from  track no. 2 Beethoven Piano Concerto no. 5
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Free MP3 sample from  track no. 5 Schubert Symphony No. 8  download digital quality

DDD Digital Recording.
Moscow Radio Studio Five,  2/2003 
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