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Classics Explained: BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 6, 'Pastoral' (Siepmann)


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Classics Explained: BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 6, 'Pastoral' (Siepmann)

Classics Explained
An Introduction to... BEETHOVEN: The 'Pastoral' Symphony

Author and Narrator: Jeremy Siepmann
2 CDs, including the complete work
142-page booklet
Naxos 8.558034-35
ISBN: 1-84379-006-8

The warmest and perhaps the most beloved of all Beethoven's nine symphonies, the so-called 'Pastoral' is a festival of enchantment from beginning to end. Though pictorial in many of its images and in the titles given to each movement, Beethoven stressed that the symphony was 'more an expression of feelings than a painting'. The feelings it arouses in the listener are of continuous joy and wonder, but the craft behind them is hardly less wonderful. Here we explore the piece from the inside out, discovering just how this magnificent musical oak grows from the tiniest of acorns and encountering in the process one of the greatest magicians in musical history.

'No-one understood better than Beethoven that if you want to have the listener's whole attention you might as well grab it at the outset.' Thus begins Jeremy Siepmann in his illuminating exploration of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' Symphony, here taking a brief overview of Beethoven's symphonic openings before focussing exclusively on No. 6. The most expansive and relaxed of the symphonies, the 'Pastoral' has 'magic wherever you listen' - 2 CDs and 5 movements later, we understand why......

Disc 1

Beethoven, Ludwig van

  First Movement: Awakening of Cheerful Feelings on Arriving in the Country, 'Allegro ma non troppo'
1.   On Beethoven's Openings 00:01:26
2.   Opening phrase of the 'Pastoral': ood, Symbolism and Musical Function 00:01:44
3.   Musical Acorns: the outline of melody; the shape of a question 00:00:42
4.   The 'question' in the 'Pastoral' repeated... 00:00:04
5.   ... and answered 00:00:12
6.   The opening phrase ends on a note full of pregnant expectation 00:00:19
7.   Starting with a stop 00:00:36
8.   The rhythmic profile of the opening phrase; a two - part construction 00:00:52
9.   Phrase One, Part One 00:00:09
10.   Phrase One, Part Two 00:00:06
11.   The properties of rhythmic ambiguity; the 'question' of Phrase One answered 00:01:03
12.   Phrase Two: from meander to march 00:00:27
13.   The makings of a conversation: contrast and variation 00:00:47
14.   Repetition as A Major factor, but it's never mere repetition; each time something new is added 00:00:33
15.   From soft to loud and back again; instrumental enrichment from horns and double - basses 00:00:18
16.   Mega - repetition: violins play exactly the same little fragment ten times in a row 00:00:29
17.   But no two repetitions are quite the same; varieties of contrast 00:00:34
18.   More variation: pitch rises; violins joined frist by the clarinet, then by the oboe 00:00:19
19.   Return to opening idea, but with new instrumentation and articulation 00:00:25
20.   Clarinets, horns, bassoons and flutes now join expansive variation 00:00:49
21.   'New' insistent rhythm derived from the first four notes of the piece 00:00:09
22.   With the dawn chorus, a whole forest is waking up; feelings of rapture 00:00:36
23.   First violins play a derivative of the opening figure, joined by wind and strings 00:00:32
24.   Sudden change of key, from the home key (tonic) to the dominant 00:00:30
25.   Arrival at the hightly contrasting second main theme 00:00:55
26.   Unusual properties of second main theme 00:02:15
27.   Rhythmic clash between simultaneous groups of three beats and groups of two 00:01:09
28.   winds fall selent as the violins and violas interrupt with a new theme 00:00:30
29.   Winds answer with the same morse - like rhythm but at half the speed 00:00:51
30.   Crescendo leads to strings' acceleration of the pace with no increase in tempo 00:01:05
31.   Beginning of coda, directly based on morse - like rhythm of the main theme 00:00:22
32.   Strings reiterate small fragment of the new theme 13 times in a row 00:00:48
33.   A simple, rising violin phrase leads to a repeat of the Exposition 00:00:18
34.   The nature and function of the Development section in sonata form; 'harmonic' rhythm explained 00:02:22
35.   The nature of harmonic rhythm illustrated 00:00:35
36.   A typically Beethovenian exercise in the frustration of expectation 00:00:38
37.   Repetitiousness and magic effected largely through instrumental colour 00:00:42
38.   Then come four, almost identical bars 00:00:08
39.   Even greater magic, with sudden switch of key and tone colour 00:00:28
40.   Entire Development section up to this point 00:01:55
41.   The Development continued 00:01:23
42.   Increased unease and suspense as harmonic rhythm accelerates 00:02:03
43.   Arrival at the point of Recapitulation; back to the beginning, as a reminder 00:01:50
44.   Beginning of Recapitulation 00:00:50
45.   More Beethovenian frustrations of expectations which he himself has just set up 00:01:01
46.   Harmonic rhythm speeds up, giving the impression of an accent on every beat 00:00:34
47.   Prevailing mood restored; new theme from clarinets and bassoons 00:00:28
48.   Violins and violas take up theme; horns, cellos, double - basses accompany 00:00:48
49.   A hush falls, followed by a return of the movement's most familiar tag in strings 00:00:58
50.   Clarinet takes up the running triplet figures of the main closing theme 00:00:32
51.   First violins take up the opening phrase again, accompanied by double - basses 00:00:37
52.   Beethoven slips in one last surprise; cue to complete movement 00:00:59
53.   First movement (complete) 00:11:01
  Second Movement, Scene by the Brook
54.   General introduction; the birth of a melody 00:01:59
55.   Brook music quickens; syncopated horns; theme changes hands; evocation of birdsong 00:01:19
56.   The 'motto' theme introduced by violins and treated to round - like overlappings 00:00:52
57.   Transitional 'bridge' theme sets off for new key group. But is it And does it 00:00:39
58.   Will he, or won't he Beethoven keeps us guessing 00:01:09
59.   The run - up to the Second Group 00:01:14
60.   Arrival at the Second Group; but where is the actual Second Subject 00:00:39
61.   A new tune is introduced by the bassoon 00:00:38
62.   Tune is repeated three times 00:01:00
63.   ... which the full orchestra now takes up in varied form 00:00:45
64.   Theme carried by flutes and first violins in a charmingly waltz - like development 00:00:48
65.   A reminder of precedent 00:00:14
66.   Back to the prevailing triple - metre with violins, bassoons and flutes 00:00:16
67.   Another reminder of precedent... 00:00:16
68.   ... and a cue to some unexpected departures 00:00:38
69.   The transformational magic of Beethoven's 'tone - painting' - and a new varation 00:00:50
70.   Conversation of clarinet, flute and oboe on the way to the Development 00:00:43
71.   Harmonic movement emphasised by violins; oboe takes up the First Subject 00:00:38
72.   Flute and oboe discuss the First Subject, before arriving together at the Transition 00:01:04
73.   Gains in volume and intensity lead to a new key - change 00:00:47
74.   More thematic transformation through the agency of tone - colour 00:01:11
75.   Harmonic fluideity - instability - as the central engine of the Development section 00:01:40
76.   Harmonic instability, thematic dissolution increase, then lessen with approach of Recapitulation 00:01:41
77.   Recap. and transformation: key and material are right, but what a change of presentation! 00:01:29
78.   Just when we know what's coming, Beethoven changes the rules (or at least the harmony) 00:00:53
79.   Transformation by reorchestration; switch to long sustained chords; then everything stops 00:01:20
80.   The silence is broken by voices of nightingale (flute), quail (oboe) and cuckoo (clarinet) 00:00:40
81.   First violins bring back motto theme 00:00:12
82.   Cue to complete movement on CD 2 00:00:32

Disc 2

Beethoven, Ludwig van

  Second Movement, Scene by the Brook
1.   Second movement (complete) 00:12:03
  Thrid Movement, Merry Gathering of Country Folk
2.   Beethoven and the Scherzo: an introduction; Part One of opening phrase taken by the strings 00:01:32
3.   Immediate response; Part One is answered by a march more singing, continuous legato 00:00:23
4.   Entire orchestra gives out opening theme, this time fortissimo and with powerful accents 00:01:06
5.   A mustical ball game. The contrast of this and the first two movements could hardly be greater 00:00:33
6.   After quietly teasing suspense, Beethoven mocks village band, first the oboe, then the bassoon 00:01:18
7.   Clarinet joins in, then horn takes the tune - the dance no longer boisterous but lyrical 00:00:48
8.   Strings sweep the village musicians aside and hurtle us into the new, boisterous 'Trio' section 00:00:46
9.   The air is alive with the sound of (mock) bagpipes, tambourines and fifes 00:01:00
10.   Coda; begins as the movement itself begins, but soon diverges in harmony and instrumentation 00:01:18
11.   Original layout compressed; order of events is changed nd Beethoven springs a big surprise 00:00:42
12.   Third movement (complete) 00:05:14
  Fourth Movement, Thunderstorm
13.   Unparalled portrait of nature's power over humanity, with some stupendous orchestration 00:03:05
14.   Self - generating form and terror of total unpredictability; 'anxiety motif' from the violins 00:01:34
15.   The 'lashing rain' motif - downward - driving arpeggios from the first violins and violas 00:00:36
16.   The 'lightning' motif, and its recurrnece later in the movement 00:00:22
17.   'Rain' motif, derived from descending scale pattern from the violins at the outest 00:00:13
18.   Shivering tremolandos from the strings and increasingly eerie harmonies from the wind 00:00:18
19.   Steady crescendo in strings; terrifying, downward spelling - out of chords in the violins 00:01:37
20.   Extremes of dynamic contrasts; the unsettling, disturbing, undermining effects of chromaticism 00:01:02
21.   Abandonment of melody, and most traces even of rhythm; sustained, discordant harmony 00:00:20
22.   Storm dispersed, the sun reappears, bathing sodden earth below with its life - giving rays 00:01:52
23.   Cue to complete preformance of Fourth Movement 00:00:09
24.   Fourth movement (complete) 00:03:55
  Fifth Movement, Shepherd's Song - Happy and Thankful Feelings After the Storm
25.   'Yodelling' figure from clarinet, then horn, the violins, who introduce the main theme 00:00:59
26.   Details of instrumental magic in the interplay of horns, cellos, clarinets and bassoons 00:01:06
27.   Main theme heard three times in a row - and yet never the same way twice 00:01:06
28.   Now we get the whole orchestra, playing full out, with violins all double - stopping 00:00:36
29.   Transition to the next section, based on the last two notes of the main theme 00:00:43
30.   The rhythmic basis of new transition theme, first in violas, then takes up by first violins 00:00:38
31.   Another rhythmic details of extended transition comes increasingly into the foreground 00:00:29
32.   ... and is then heard in expanded version, taken in sequence by the strings, from the top down 00:00:51
33.   New phrase, introduced by violins, brings us resoundingly back to the opening material 00:01:13
34.   Main theme, re - orchestrated; unexpected drift into another key and a new, gently flowing theme 00:02:15
35.   Hints of a return to main theme; long 'pedal point'; running commentary from the violins 00:00:58
36.   Main theme returns, but significantly altered, and not entirely intact 00:00:37
37.   Running commentary now heard in the middle, with alternating pizzicatos both above and below 00:00:24
38.   Part Three of main theme given to entire orchestra, leading to final appearance of Theme two 00:01:21
39.   Extended coda; overlapping variations of main theme, rather in the manner of a round 00:02:09
40.   Suddenly the scene changes. A variation of the 'running commentary' cited in Tracks 34 and 36 00:00:51
41.   The crowning glory, as the Shepherd's Song of Thanksgiving takes on a 'heavenly' magnificence 00:02:10
42.   Cue into complete performance of Fifth Movement through the 'gateway' of the Fourth 00:01:09
43.   Fourth and Fifth movements (complete) 00:13:47

Total Playing Time: 02:33:00

Siepmann, Jeremy

Beethoven, Ludwig van

Siepmann, Jeremy

Label: Naxos Educational

Genre: Music Education

Period: Classical

Catalogue No: 8.558034-35

Barcode: 0636943803424

Physical Release: 04/2002

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