David's Review Corner
, August 2019
It is unclear whether Beethoven’s piano version of the ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus, came before or after the orchestral score, its use being for rehearsals.
That is usually the task of ‘an arranger’, but in this instance it was the work of Beethoven, and published as such. The whole project began when the dancer and choreographer, Salvatore Vigano, commissioned Beethoven—a most unlikely choice—to write a score for a ballet to be premiered in Vienna in 1801. Though the scenario no longer exists, the basis was the legend of Prometheus being punished by Zeus for the theft of fire for mankind, chaining him to a rock each day an eagle pecks away his life. The ballet seems to have been somewhat different in content, its success, or otherwise, is unknown, but when later staged in Milan in 1813, a new composer was asked to provide the music. Today the Overture is quite often heard in the concert hall, and though the complete score is seldom performed, the whole work appears on a most enjoyable Naxos release where Michael Halasz conducts the Melbourne Symphony (8.553404). Here we have the Hong Kong pianist, Warren Lee, a multiple prizewinner trained in London from where he has built a worldwide career. In his hands the temperature is raised in a highly charged overture, the clarity of articulation throughout to be much admired, while the impact of the stormy passages sit beside his elegant handling of the dances given to muses and musicians depicted in the second act. The recording was made in the UK last year. © 2019 David’s Review Corner