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8.573335 - CZERNY, C.: Flute and Piano Music - 3 Rondeaux Faciles et Brillans / Introduction, Variations and Finale / Duo Concertant (Kazunori Seo, Makoto Ueno)

Carl Czerny (1791–1857)
Music for Flute and Piano


Carl Czerny’s father, Wenzel, was a native of Nimburg in Bohemia, born in 1752. He served as a chorister at a Benedictine monastery near Prague until, at the age of seventeen, his voice broke. Family poverty led him to the army and service of fifteen years in the Artillery, followed, in 1784, by a period as a piano-teacher in Brno. His marriage led to a move to Vienna, where he taught music, working also as a piano-repairer. His only son, Carl, was born in Vienna in 1791, in time for the family to move to Poland, where Wenzel Czerny was employed as a piano-teacher in the house of a member of the nobility. Four years later they returned to Vienna, where Wenzel Czerny resumed his earlier occupations.

Carl Czerny owed much to his father, who trained him as a pianist and musician, concentrating particularly on the works of Bach, Mozart and Clementi. At the age of nine he played for Beethoven, who was happy to accept him as a pupil, his lessons relying in good part on Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s essay on keyboard-playing, the Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen. In spite of the irregularity of these lessons, Czerny enjoyed Beethoven’s favour and found a continuing source of inspiration in Beethoven’s music which remained at the heart of his own repertoire as a performer. Attempts to embark on an early career as an infant prodigy, a travelling virtuoso, were eventually abandoned, partly owing to the disturbed political and social events of the time and partly because, as Czerny later pointed out, of his lack of brilliance and showmanship, the element of charlatanry that seemed a necessary concomitant of such a career. With his careful father’s approval, he settled in Vienna primarily as a piano-teacher, with pupils that over the years included the boy Liszt, who passed on Czerny’s teaching to a generation of virtuosi, and they, in turn, to their pupils. Impressed as he was by the performance style of Mozart, heard through Mozart’s pupil Hummel, he nevertheless became a leading exponent of the piano music of Beethoven, with its demands for a legato style suited to the newer forms of pianoforte now available. His pedagogical works had and continue to have wide currency. While his principal works were in the form of exercises and studies, of which he wrote a very large number, his other piano music consists of Sonatas and Sonatinas, with various medleys, variations and other shorter pieces. He wrote music for piano duet, and for up to six players, with many arrangements and transcriptions, including a number of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Auber, and editions of major composers, including Donizetti. The extent of his work as a composer is reflected in well over 800 opus numbers.

Czerny’s Trois Rondeaux faciles et brillans pour Pianoforte et Flute (ou Violon) concertans sur des motifs favoris de Rossini & Bellini, Op. 347, pour la jeunesse, was issued in 1836 by the publisher Simrock in Bonn. The first of these pieces is in C major and uses motifs from Bellini, taking as its principal theme Elvino’s aria Ah! perché non posso odiarti from La sonnambula, expressing his distrust of Amina in the second act, when he suspects her of infidelity. The second rondo, in D major, employs characteristic themes from Rossini and the third, in G major, derives its melodies from Bellini in a particularly brilliant end to the group of pieces.

The Introduzione, Variazioni e Finale, Op. 80, seems to have been written in about 1825, a year after Schubert’s Variations on ‘Trockne Blumen’, and possibly intended for the same flautist, Ferdinand Bogner, a musician of some importance in musical life in Vienna, who combined his musical activities with employment as a civil servant in the imperial treasury. The Introduzione, marked Adagio molto, opens with a dramatic flourish, leading to a cadenza and the theme, Allegretto moderato e grazioso, to be followed by seven variations, the sixth of which, più lento, is in a minor key. The work ends with a brilliant final variation, marked Brillante e vivace, a technically demanding conclusion in true concerto style.

The Rondoletto concertant for Piano, Flute and Cello ad lib, Op. 149, was published in Vienna towards the end of 1827. It starts withe the piano statement of the principal theme, marked Allegretto animato, followed by the flute. The first episode of the rondo brings elements of display and a piano cadenza, before the return of the main theme.

A second episode explores the subdominant key of B flat and its associated key of G minor. A brief excursion into E major leads back to the original key and the principal theme, leading in turn to a triumphant coda to end an elegant and characteristic work.

Czerny’s Duo concertant pour Piano-forte et Flûte in G major, Op. 129 was published in 1827 in Vienna by Diabelli. A work of some brilliance which has retained a place in flute repertoire, it opens with a movement broadly in sonata-allegro form, with a repeated exposition and spectacular display for both instruments. The Scherzo has a C major trio section by way of contrast. It is followed by a slower movement, marked Andantino grazioso, its main theme entrusted first to the flute and then taken up by the piano. The work ends with a Rondo, its jaunty principal theme returning to frame a series of contrasting episodes, leading to a brief relaxation before a triumphant dash to the finish.

Keith Anderson

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