Introduction to Beethoven: The Pastoral Symphony

An Introduction to Beethoven: The Pastoral Symphony

by Jeremy Siepmann

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  1. Discussion/Introduction to Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony"

    • Jeremy Siepmann
    • Béla Drahos
    • Budapest Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
    • Jeremy Siepmann
    1. On Beethoven's Openings  (01:26)
    2. Second Movement (complete)  (12:03)
    3. Opening phrase of the 'Pastoral': Mood, Symbolism and Musical Function  (01:44)
    4. Beethoven and the Scherzo: and introduction; Part One of opening phrase taken by the strings  (01:32)
    5. Musical Acorns: the outline of melody; the shape of a question  (00:42)
    6. Immediate response; Part One is answered by a much more singing, continuous legato  (00:23)
    7. The 'question' in the 'Pastoral' repeated...  (00:04)
    8. Entire orchestra gives out opening theme, this time fortissimo and with powerful accents  (01:06)
    9. ...and answered  (00:12)
    10. A musical ball game. The contrast of this and the first two movements could hardly be greater  (00:33)
    11. The opening phrase ends on a note full of pregnant expectation  (00:19)
    12. After quietly teasing suspense, Beethoven mocks village band, first the oboe, then the bassoon  (01:18)
    13. Starting with a stop  (00:36)
    14. Clarinet joins in, then horns take the tune - the dance no longer boisterous but lyrical  (00:48)
    15. The rhythmic profile of the opening phrase; a two-part construction  (00:52)
    16. Strings sweep the village musicians aside and hurtle us into the new, boisterous 'Trio' section  (00:46)
    17. Phrase One, Part One  (00:09)
    18. The air is alive with the sound of (mock) bagpipes, tambourines and fifes  (01:00)
    19. Phrase One, Part Two  (00:06)
    20. Coda; begins as the movement itself begins, but soon diverges in harmony and instrumentation  (01:18)
    21. The properties of rhythmic ambiguity; the 'question' of Phrase One answered  (01:03)
    22. Original layout compressed; order of events is changed and Beethoven springs a big surprise  (00:42)
    23. Phrase Two: from meander to march  (00:27)
    24. Third movement (complete)  (05:14)
    25. The makings of a conversation: contrast and variation  (00:47)
    26. Unparalleled portrait of nature's power over humanity, with some stupendous orchestration  (03:05)
    27. Repetition as a major factor, but it's never mere repitition; each time something new is added  (00:33)
    28. Self-generating form and terror of total unpredictability; 'anxiety motif' from the violins  (01:34)
    29. From soft to loud and back again; instrumental enrichment from horns and double-basses  (00:18)
    30. The 'lashing rain' motif - downward-driving arpeggios from the first violins and violas  (00:36)
    31. Mega-repetition: violins play exactly the same little fragment ten times in a row  (00:29)
    32. The 'lightning' motif, and its recurrence later in the movement  (00:22)
    33. But no two repetitions are quite the same; varieties of contrast  (00:34)
    34. 'Rain' motif, derived from descending scale pattern from the violins at the outset  (00:13)
    35. More variation: pitch rises; violins joined first by the clarinet, then by the oboe  (00:19)
    36. Shivering tremolandos from the strings and increasingly eerie harmonies from the wind  (00:18)
    37. Return to the opening idea, but with new instrumentation and articulation  (00:25)
    38. Steady crescendo in strings; terrifying, downward spelling-out chords in the violins  (01:37)
    39. Clarinets, horns, bassoons and flutes now join expansive variation  (00:49)
    40. Extremes of dynamic contrasts; the unsettling, disturbing, undermining effects of chromaticism  (01:02)
    41. 'New' insistent rhythm derived from the first four notes of the piece  (00:09)
    42. Abandonment of the melody, and most traces even of rhythm; sustained, discordant harmony  (00:20)
    43. With the dawn chorus, a whole forest is waking up; feelings of rapture  (00:36)
    44. Storm dispersed, the sun reappears, bathing sodden earth below with its life-giving rays  (01:52)
    45. First violins play a derivative of the opening figure, joined by wind and strings  (00:32)
    46. Cue to complete performance of Fourth Movement  (00:09)
    47. Sudden change of key, from the home key (tonic) to the dominant  (00:30)
    48. Fourth movement (complete)  (03:55)
    49. Arrival at the highly contrasting second main theme  (00:55)
    50. 'Yodelling' figure from clarinet, then horn, then violins, who introduce the main theme  (00:59)
    51. Unusual properties of second main theme  (02:15)
    52. Details of instrumental magic in the interplay of horns, cellos, clarinets and bassoons  (01:06)
    53. Rhythmic clash between simultaneous groups of three beats and groups of two  (01:09)
    54. Main theme heard three times in a row - and yet never the same way twice  (01:06)
    55. Winds fall silent as the violins and violas interrupt with a new theme  (00:30)
    56. Now we get the whole orchestra, playing full out, with violins all double-stopping  (00:36)
    57. Winds answer with the same morse-like rhythm but at half the speed  (00:51)
    58. Transition to the next section, based on the last two notes of the main theme  (00:43)
    59. Crescendo leads to strings' acceleration of the pace with no increase in tempo  (01:05)
    60. The rhythmic basis of new transition theme, first in violas, then taken up by first violins  (00:38)
    61. Beginning of coda, directly based on morse-like rhythm of the main theme  (00:22)
    62. Another rhythmic detail of extended transition comes increasingly into the foreground  (00:29)
    63. Strings reiterate small fragment of the new theme 13 times in a row  (00:48)
    64. ...and is then heard in expanded version, taken in sequence by the strings, from the top down  (00:51)
    65. A simple, rising violin phrase leads to a repeat of the Exposition  (00:18)
    66. New phrase, introduced by violins, brings us resoundingly back to the opening material  (01:13)
    67. The nature and function of the Development section in sonata form: 'harmonic' rhythm explained  (02:22)
    68. Main theme, re-orchestrated; unexpected drift into another key and a new, gently flowing theme  (02:15)
    69. The nature of harmonic rhythm illustrated  (00:35)
    70. Hints of a return to main them; long 'pedal point'; running commentary from the violins  (00:58)
    71. A typically Beethovenian exercise in the frustration of experience  (00:38)
    72. Main theme returns, but significantly altered, and not entirely intact  (00:37)
    73. Repetitiousness and magic effected largely through instrumental colour  (00:42)
    74. Running commentary now heard in the middle, with alternating pizzicatos both above and below  (00:24)
    75. Then come four, almost identical bars  (00:08)
    76. Part Three of main theme given to entire orchestra, leading to final appearance of Theme two  (01:21)
    77. Even greater magic, with sudden switch of key and tone colour  (00:28)
    78. Extended coda; overlapping variations of main theme, rather in the manner of a round  (02:09)
    79. Entire Development section up to this point  (01:55)
    80. Suddenly the scene changes. A variation of the 'running commentary' cited in tracks 34 and 36  (00:51)
    81. The Development continued  (01:23)
    82. The crowning glory, as the Shepherd's Song of Thanksgiving takes on a 'heavenly' magnificence  (02:10)
    83. Increased unease and suspense as harmonic rhythm accelerates  (02:03)
    84. Cue into complete performance of Fifth Movement through the 'gateway' of the Fourth  (01:09)
    85. Arrival at the point of Recapitulation; back to the beginning, as a reminder  (01:50)
    86. Fourth and Fifth movements (complete)  (13:47)
    87. Beginning of Recapitulation  (00:50)
    88. More Beethovenian frustrations of expectations which he himself has just set up  (01:01)
    89. Harmonic rhythm speeds up, giving the impression of an accent on every beat  (00:34)
    90. Prevailing mood restored; new theme from clarinets and bassoons  (00:28)
    91. Violins and violas take up theme; horns, cellos, double-basses accompany  (00:48)
    92. A hush falls, followed by a return of the movement's most familiar tag in strings  (00:58)
    93. Clarinet takes up the running triplet figures of the main closing theme  (00:32)
    94. First violins take up the opening phrase again, accompanied by double-basses  (00:37)
    95. Beethoven slips in one last surprise; cue to complete movement  (00:59)
    96. First Movement (complete)  (11:01)
    97. General introduction; the birth of a melody  (01:59)
    98. Brook music quickens; syncopated horns; theme changes hands; evocation of birdsong  (01:19)
    99. The 'motto' theme introduced by violins and treated to round-like overlappings  (00:52)
    100. Transitional 'bridge' theme sets off for new key group. But is it? And does it?  (00:39)
    101. Will he, or won't he? Beethoven keeps us guessing  (01:09)
    102. The run-up to the Second Group  (01:14)
    103. Arrival at the Second Group; but where is the actual Second Subject?  (00:39)
    104. A new tune is introduced by the bassoon  (00:38)
    105. Tune is repeated three times  (01:00)
    106. ...which the full orchestra now takes up in varied form  (00:45)
    107. Theme carried by flutes and first violins in a charmingly waltz-like development  (00:48)
    108. A reminder of the precedent  (00:14)
    109. Back to the prevailing triple-metre with violins, bassoons and flutes  (00:16)
    110. Another reminder of precedent...  (00:16)
    111. ...and a cue to some unexpected departures  (00:38)
    112. The transformational magic of Beethoven's 'tone-painting' - and a new variation  (00:50)
    113. Conversation of clarinet, flute and oboe on the way to the Development  (00:43)
    114. Harmonic movement emphasised by violins; oboe takes up the First Subject  (00:38)
    115. Flute and oboe discuss the First Subject, before arriving together at the Transition  (01:04)
    116. Gains in volume and intensity lead to a new key-change  (00:47)
    117. More thematic transformation through the agency of tone-colour  (01:11)
    118. Harmonic fluidity - instability - as the central engine of the Development section  (01:40)
    119. Harmonic instability, thematic dissolution increase, then lessen with approach of Recapitulation  (01:41)
    120. Recap. and transformation: key and material are right, but what a change of presentation!  (01:29)
    121. Just when we know that's coming, Beethoven changes the rules (or at least the harmony)  (00:53)
    122. Transformation by reorchestration; switch to long sustained chords; then everything stops  (01:20)
    123. The silence is broken by voices of nightingale (flute), quail (oboe) and cuckoo (clarinet)  (00:40)
    124. First violins bring back the motto theme  (00:12)
    125. Cue to complete movement on CD 2  (00:32)

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