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First recordings of Beethoven

First recordings of Beethoven
The Piano Sonata Biamonti 213, fragments and sketches

John Kersey, piano

Audio sample:  Piano Sonata in D, Biamonti 213 (first movement)

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Total time: 58 mins 42 secs

Piano sonata in D, Biamonti 213 (25’57”):
(1). (Moderato) attacca (Adagio) (14’47”)
(2) (Moderato) (11.10)

Miniatures, fragments and sketches:

(3). Tulip Waltz and (4). Spirit Waltz (doubtful authenticity)
(5). Piano Exercise in B flat major and minor, Hess 58
(6). Adagio in G major, Hess 70
(7). Adagio in G major, Hess 71
(8). Melodie in C minor, Hess 324
(9). Piece (Allegro) in D, Hess 325
(10). March in C minor, Hess 330
(11). Minuet in B flat major, Hess 331
(12), (13). Anglaise in G, Biamonti 48 (two versions)
(14). Adagio and Allegro, Biamonti 96
(15). Sketch for Sonata in E flat, Biamonti 98
(16). Allegretto in A, with other sketches, Biamonti 99
(17). Intermezzo for Sonata op 10 no 1, Biamonti 191
(18). Fragment in A major producing effect of Horns, Biamonti 268
(19). Andante molto in E flat major, Biamonti 269
(20). Fragment in F, Biamonti 270
(21). Fragment in E flat, Biamonti 271
(22). Andante in B flat, Biamonti 272
(23). Draft in F, Biamonti 273
(24). Drafts in C and G, Biamonti 276
(25). Succession of Chords, Biamonti 278
(26). Allegro in C, Biamonti 279
(27). Passage in B, Biamonti 280
(28). (Finale) in G, Biamonti 282
(29). Andante in D flat (Bagatelle), Biamonti 283
(30). Allegro in A flat and A, Biamonti 284
(31). Notation in E flat, Biamonti 317
(32). Sketches for a Sonata in A minor, Biamonti 318
(33). Sketches for the finale to the Eroica Variations, op 35, Biamonti 319
(34). Pastorale in C, Biamonti 622
(35). Fragment in G, Biamonti 720
(36). Minuet in D minor, Gardi 10
(37). Instrumental Draft, Biamonti 849

“A great feast for the Beethoven connoisseur”
James Green, author, The New Hess Catalog of Beethoven’s Works.

“Not one but two recordings of the Piano Sonata Biamonti 213 have recently been released as a result of this site publicizing their existence. The Master’s original sketch, as he left it, is performed by UK pianist John Kersey on Romantic Discoveries Recordings CD 19. This CD also includes an amazing 35 additional Unheard pieces, almost all of which have never before been recorded. It’s a treasure trove for those fascinated by the minutiae of Beethoven’s catalogues. The recording of our own Willem’s completion of the sonata is performed by Steven Beck on Monument Records, accompanied by other piano fantasias by Beethoven.”
The Unheard Beethoven

Piano Sonata in D, Biamonti 213

It is not often that a major work by Beethoven is “rediscovered”, but the Piano Sonata in D genuinely merits some degree of excitement. Here is a work in which Beethoven’s experimental style of around 1801-2 is revealed as originating at least some nine years earlier, with a work that is revolutionary in structure and which contains ideas of beauty and distinction.

The Sonata is a twenty-five minute work dating from 1792-3, and is preserved in the “Kafka” miscellany in the British Library (pages 90r-95r). Beethoven’s original contains neither title nor tempo indications, though for the structural reasons that will be discussed below, I believe it fully merits the title Sonata. Joseph Kerman, in his 1970 transcription of the Kafka sketchbooks, entitles it “Composition (fantasia?) in D/d.” In doing this, Kerman draws attention to the highly unusual approach to form in this work. The first two movements, which play without a break, are more-or-less complete, with transitions and accompaniments to the return of the second movement theme either omitted or sketched in with limited detail. The third movement is highly fragmentary, consisting mainly of a single melody line with some filled-out passages. It is more or less continuous, though there are some lacunae between sections indicating a missing transition.

Although it would be quite possible to complete the work, and a completion has indeed been produced by Willem Holsbergen (see below), I have chosen to present this and the other works on the disc as nearly as possible to the state in which  Beethoven left them. The purpose in doing so is to enable listeners to gain an insight into Beethoven’s creative processes without the intervention of a third party. Occasionally, I have made minor editorial amendments to passagework in order to clarify what I believe to be the compositional intent. I have also added dynamics. Tempo indications in brackets are my own.

This first recording of the original incomplete version of Biamonti 213 appears concurrently with the first recording of Willem Holsbergen’s completion of the work by Stephen Beck on Monument Records.

Bar numbers referred to below are numbered continuously from the beginning of the whole work according to my own (unpublished) performing edition.

1. (Moderato)

The highly unusual form of this movement should be understood in the context of the work as a whole, given that it shares themes with the finale. Essentially, Beethoven expands his sonata form so that the first and second themes form the basis not for a single movement, but instead an entire movement apiece. In order to bring this about, he uses an unprecedented “double exposition” in his first movement.

The opening mood immediately suggests comparison with the Sonata in D op 28 of 1801, and the first theme is gentle and pastoral in nature. The opening 76 bars are based on this theme, with transitions separating its two presentations piano and forte. These chromatic transitions are outwardly exploratory without actually taking us far from the dominant and tonic respectively; the reliance on a dominant pedal through bars 23-42 recalls the drone bass of the first movement of op 28. Such a static approach has a purpose, for here we see the duration that would usually suffice for both first and second subjects expanded to present a single theme.

The second part of the exposition begins at bar 76(3) in the tonic minor, after the bare statement of the tonic doubled at the octave on the first beat of that bar. The unification of this second theme with the first is remarkable, for it consists of an elaboration of the figure first heard in bar 3 and then projected downwards. This occurs over chords in which the bare fifth is prominent, creating perhaps the feeling of a rustic minuet. Syncopation is characteristic of this second theme, forming a necessary contrast with the first.

Like the presentation of the first theme, the second receives two main statements (bar 76 foll. and bar 97 foll.) with an octave doubling suggested but not fully realised the second time round, when the theme appears a octave higher. Again, the transitions suggest chromatic variety but do not take us far from tonic or dominant. Just as we would have expected from a conventional exposition, the second subject material concludes the exposition on the dominant at bar 120. It will not be heard again until the third movement.

The development begins at bar 123 with an elaborated restatement of the first theme, which moves to the dominant amid arpeggiated passagework and scales. The reinforcement of the dominant in this section is extremely strong, with that key dominating through to a series of cadential figures over a dominant pedal at bars 185-195. These figures mirror the tonic close of the first section of the exposition at bars 68-76(1).

There now follows a coda-like extended transition passage to the recapitulation (bar 195 foll.) This uses the development’s scalic figures (now overlapping) before evaporating in a dominant seventh (bars 207-210). Several bars of unstable harmony bring us back to an extended dominant pedal (bars 215-236). The pedal leads us into the beginning of the recapitulation proper with a chain of trills, suggesting Beethoven’s late style, over the presentation of the elaborated restatement of the first theme heard before at bar 123. Appearing first in the “wrong” key of C major (a technique that was later to be used to great effect by Schubert) it proceeds to the tonic via a chromatic octave passage (bars 258-261). The chromatic scale first heard in bars 261-262 foreshadows the important role of chromatic scales in the finale.

The recapitulation is also far from conventional, drawing not only on the first subject exposition material but also restating some of the development. A mock canon at bars 290-298 resolves in a similar cadential figure, this time in the treble register, to those seen at bars 68-96(1). This then brings back the development material and further extends it via scales. By bar 361 we have reached the coda proper, with a resigned adaptation of the first subject leading us back to the cadential figures. But the movement does not end conventionally; instead, via a secondary dominant, it leads directly into the slow movement.

2. (Adagio)

After the first movement, this movement seems a good deal more conventional. Cast in the subdominant of G major, it uses a theme made up of two motifs, one a dotted tonic/dominant chordal figure over a timpani tonic pedal (not entirely dissimilar to the outline of the slow movement of the piano sonata in E flat, op 7 (1796-97)), and the other a galant semiquaver figure that is quintessentially Beethovenian in its turn of phrase. This first motif is already extended in the initial presentation (bars 388-389) while the extension of the second leads us to the close. The first episode begins flowingly in the tonic but is soon interrupted (bar 394) by a dramatic figure in the relative minor. Consisting of a rising arpeggio and falling scale, it culminates in a chromatic descent in thirds (bars 396-397) whose conclusion suggests G minor. However, just as we saw in reverse in the first movement transition between first and second subjects (bar 76), the tonic minor is followed immediately by the tonic major with the return of the main theme. This is the first significant lacuna in Beethoven’s score; the theme is presented without accompaniment (which might well have been chordal in nature). The timpani accompaniment to the first bar are brought melodically to the fore in bar 402, while the second motif’s extension is this time varied with syncopation.

At bar 408 the second episode starts as if it will repeat the E minor figure from bar 394. Instead, it introduces a plaintive arioso over a triplet accompaniment. This arioso melody has its melodic genesis in the first movement’s minor second subject, consisting of a rising fourth followed by a falling figure – then a chromatic-scale-with-nota-cambiata, now a falling fourth over a descending bassline. This figure resolves in the subdominant with a quietly confident statement of the main theme (bar 420); another indication of the significance of C major as a key of hope for Beethoven. An elaborated version of the descending scale-figure first seen at bar 414 leads to a confident forte restatement of the main theme (bar 425). That elaboration returns and takes us to a powerful passage in the dominant, with chromatic dissonances created by the bassline (recalling the beginning of the first movement’s first subject). A dramatic chromatic scale in thirds (also recalling bars 261-262 of the first movement and foreshadowing the finale) takes us back to the tonic and the main theme once more (bar 436).

The descending scale-figure of bar 414 is used as a transition once more, this time to the coda (bar 448 foll.) Using a daring augmented chord (bar 449), Beethoven modulates to the remote key of E flat major, placing the main theme over the timpani figure which is now filled out and ominous (bars 452-453). But this subsides back to the tonic, and even a second, briefer interruption (bars 462-463) cannot disrupt the calm conclusion.

3. (Moderato)

In a striking reference to the first movement, Beethoven introduces his finale by re-quoting part of the first movement’s first subject (bar 481 foll.), this time in E minor and with an accompaniment of agitated bare fifths that become triads after a few bars. The theme is extended scalically, sidestepping to D minor and after a crescendo of repeated figures reaching a crisis point of a high trill followed by a fortissimo cadence in the dominant. This introduction completed, we are ready to commence the movement proper. The main theme is the first movement’s second subject, but from here the score becomes extremely sparse, usually with the melody line complete but little else by way of a full texture.

There is no contrasting second group, and the main theme makes all the running, with a scalic contrasting figure eventually introduced at bar 578. By bar 614 the stage is set for the first appearance of the arresting chromatic scales that will dominate the movement, and here Beethoven fills out the texture with heavy chords in the right hand set against the scales in the left, rather as would later be done in the Fourth Piano Concerto slow movement. Those chords settle on what is to be construed as a dominant seventh in A flat major by bar 624, and after fourteen bars of repetition, we finally enter that key proper at bar 638, by which time the score has reverted to melodic outline again. Now the main theme is answered by a major version of its nota cambiata close that fulfils the function of a second subject (bars 643-646). The tonic is reasserted in bar 659, but the second subject and its major tonality continues to be prominent, explored via sequence in bar 680 foll. Returning to the tonic around bar 729, an arpeggio figure is introduced (bar 741) that forms the basis for a highly Beethovenian descent (bar 753) and the return of the chromatic scale. This leads into the restatement of the main theme at bar 775 with greater chromaticism and a sense of striving for cadence. An anguished diminished seventh passage (bar 815 foll.) features first descending arpeggios and then descending scales, before calming and returning to the main theme again.

At bar 862 the return of an underlying tonic timpani rhythm followed by the chromatic scale signals the beginning of the coda. The scale extends over three octaves, running up and down without any clue as to the harmonic changes that presumably underlie it. A repeated perfect cadence (shades of the Fifth Symphony) is in fact a false ending, for the second subject now returns for an emphatic representation in chords (bar 954). The irresolute conclusion at bar 997 seems to indicate a lacuna or incompleted transition to the last section.

Beginning with a descending broken trill (bar 1004 foll.) and building up into a full texture once more, Beethoven produces music of great tension. Note particularly the grinding dissonance at bar 1022. Another lacuna at bar 1037 precedes the final section, now calm again with the main theme in octaves and the return of the cadence figures (bars 1083 onwards reminiscent of the cadenza Beethoven provided for Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor, K466 (1809?)). The work ends ambiguously with the chromatic scale ascending and three statements of the tonic. Exactly how these statements were to be presented is difficult to be sure, but my view is that bare octaves are probable, providing a link with the first movement transition and also reinforcing the major/minor ambiguity of the piece.

Fragments and sketches
The remainder of this disc is given over to previously unrecorded Beethoven fragments and sketches, and includes also several complete miniatures. Each is discussed separately.

Tulip Waltz and Spirit Waltz
These works are of doubtful authenticity, although the Spirit Waltz certainly has some Beethovenian features with its abrupt dynamic contrasts. The edition used for them was that published by C. Bradlee in Boston, USA, in c.1845. The Spirit Waltz is not the same as the Geister Waltz Anh. 14 no 4. It sounds, however, as if it is much more likely than that work to be the one identified by Herman Melville in “Redburn: His First Voyage” (chapter XLIX) (though there, it is played on an organ):

“Again – what blasted heath is this? – what goblin sounds of Macbeth’s witches? – Beethoven’s Spirit Waltz! the muster-call of sprites and specters. Now come, hands joined, Medusa, Hecate, she of Endor, and all the Blocksberg’s, demons dire.”

Piano Exercise in B flat major and minor, Hess 58
Dating from 1800, this simple exercise in octaves (probably intended for a pupil) was published in Nottebohm’s Beethoveniana II (1887) pp361-2.

Adagio in G major, Hess 70
This fragment dates from between June 1803 and April 1804 and is from the Landsberg 6 sketchbook now in the Biblioteca Jagiellonski in Krakow, Poland. It follows the sketches for the unfinished opera Vestas Feuer, Hess 115, and precedes the Waldstein sonata op 53. Although Nottebohm identifies it as the beginning of an Adagio, it appears more to be the working-out of a transition passage leading to a cadence. There is a feeling of string quartet writing rather than piano music here.

Adagio in G major, Hess 71
This piece appears on page 117 of the Landsberg 6 sketchbook and may well be associated with Hess 70 above. Again the textures suggest string quartet writing rather than piano music. The chromatic exploration at the end is striking.

Melodie in C minor, Hess 324
From the Wielhorsky sketchbook.

Piece (Allegro) in D, Hess 325
An adventurous experiment in the use of the augmented triad dating from 1802/03 and found in the Wielhorsky sketchbook. The texture is similar to that found in the first movement development of the Sonata in D minor, op 31 no 2 (1802), where augmented triad to tonic progressions are also in evidence.

March in C minor, Hess 330
This march is also from the Landsberg 6 sketchbook, dating from 1804. It appears in two consecutive versions, of which the second seems to suggest a slightly more urgent tempo. Directly below this march can be found the sketches for the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony, perhaps suggesting that this could once have been conceived as an alternative third movement.

Minuet in B flat major, Hess 331
This melody line’s date of 1799 makes it contemporaneous with the sketches for the op 18 string quartets also found in the Grasnick 2 sketchbook. It was published in the 1846 “Beethoven-Album”. It has previously been recorded in a string quartet version, which is its most likely destination.

Anglaise in G, Biamonti 48 (two versions)
Here are two versions of the same piece, showing that Beethoven was considering some rather radical alternatives in its continuation. They are from the Fischhof miscellany in Berlin’s Stadtsbibliothek and the Kafka miscellany in the British Library respectively. As to date, the Kafka version (presented first) is on paper from Bonn, while the Fischhof version dates from 1798-1801, suggesting it may be the latter of the two. The Fischhof version features some unusual harmonic progressions and a remote modulation.

Adagio and Allegro, Biamonti 96
This is a collection of sketches and fragments rather than a single piece. They form part of a four-page sketchleaf (SV329) held by the Beethoven Archive in Bonn, and date from around 1800-02. Each idea is separated by a short pause on the recording.

A wide-ranging modulating passage with a very strange chord resolving to A flat major. Some repetitions are indicated in shorthand.

Another modulating passage, with a falling third theme similar to the first movement of the Sonata in E flat, op 7.

A contrary-motion turn-like figure with wide kinship in Beethoven’s other works; it is similar to the first subject of the first movement of the Cello Sonata op 102 no 2 and also to the second half of the fugue subject from the “Hammerklavier” sonata, op 106.

A very clearly delineated chordal theme in A major with a rather martial character. May be associated with the song “Urians Reise”, op 52 no 1.

An ascending major seventh arpeggio.

A bold idea based on the conflict between two chords, separated by a triplet chromatic scale. A similar progression occurs in the first movement of the D minor sonata op 31 no 2 (1802). Beethoven adds “usw.” (etc.) at the end.

A gentle rocking theme in C major consisting of a four bar phrase repeated.

Sonata: Allegro maestoso
An arresting opening idea for a Sonata in E minor, which peters out after fourteen bars. A constant triplet accompaniment was to be a feature of the finale of the E flat major sonata, op 31 no 3.

Adagio molto
Beethoven has written beneath this (as transcribed by Prod’homme) “The difficulty and the lightness of all this passage for the fingers, but with an effect as if played with the bow.” The difficulty is considerable, as the hands are crossed throughout and the distance between them is one of three octaves. It is unclear why this passage should require hand-crossing.

Schluss: (Allegro)
An emphatic ending in D major for an unidentified piece.

Another crossed-hands passage in G major, which sounds rather as if taken from a fugue.

A simple dance-like movement in E major, based on a trill with turn in the melody against a tonic, then dominant drone. Several repeats are indicated, and the piece would likely move next to a da capo.

An intriguing figuration that prefigures the variations of the C minor Sonata, op 111, and the Diabelli Variations, op 120. The false trill is a technique Beethoven presumably learned from Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

A four-bar phrase in B flat major with something of the feeling of a German Dance about them.

Fugen Tema
The start of a fugal exposition of a subject with something in common with the B flat Sonata, op 106. Only a couple of beats of the answer are provided, and then Beethoven has written something that ends “theme in augmentation”. This augmentation follows next, with:

The fugue theme, with doubled note-values and two octaves higher.

The fugue theme now presented in its original values against a semiquaver accompaniment with a coda. By the coda, this does not feel particularly like piano music, although the preceding figuration is certainly pianistic.

(Andante con moto)
A gentle contredanse. In the second group, Beethoven wrote the melody in double thirds, but crossed this out to revert to the same texture as the opening. There is a da capo indication at the end, but no fine.

Sketch for Sonata in E flat, Biamonti 98
This, like Biamonti 96, is a fragment from sketchleaf SV329. It is a more-or-less complete beginning to a sonata, though it seems possible that the opening chords are a harmonic outline rather than the intended melody. That harmonic outline is an extension of the arresting opening of Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI/52 (1794). The scale in the middle is not fully written out but instead marked by Beethoven “so on down and then up again”. The Unheard Beethoven suggests that the scale ends on a B flat, which seems highly likely.

Allegretto in A, with other sketches, Biamonti 99
Like Biamonti 96 above, this seems to be a collection of more-or-less unrelated sketches. The wide disparities in key and style suggest that they are unlikely to be drafts for a single piece. They are found on sketchleaf SV329 along with Biamonti 96 and Biamonti 98.

A repeated figure based on a tonic pedal throughout, recalling similar passages in the D major sonata, op 28.

A change to triple time and A flat major for a transition passage.

Back to A major; this theme is reminiscent of the opening of the Piano Trio in E flat WoO 38. The notation is fragmentary and the recorded version is based on that assembled by The Unheard Beethoven.

Two similar highly chromatic modulatory fragments.

A semiquaver melody in B flat major punctuated by falling fifths.

For the Right Hand; in A major
A strange brief melodic figuration based on a diminished seventh.

Beethoven predicts Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” with a semiquaver descent. Similar chains of descending triplets (though not as chromatic) would be used in the first movement of the Piano Concerto no 4 in G, op 58.

A harmonically daring bar in massive chords.

Intermezzo for Sonata op 10 no 1, Biamonti 191
This draft dates from 1798-99 and is in two sections; the opening and then a concluding section. It appears on p34 of the Grasnick 1 sketchbook, which is held by the SPK in Berlin.

Fragment in A major producing effect of Horns, Biamonti 268
Beethoven writes “here the effect of horns must be emphasised” beneath the bass part, which makes use of horn fifths. It appears on a sketchleaf along with Biamonti 268-284 now in the Beethoven-Archiv, Bonn, and dating from around 1793.

Andante molto in E flat major, Biamonti 269
Probably a moment from a projected sonata slow movement, this beautiful melody is six bars in length with a repeat.

Fragment in F, Biamonti 270
This passage is similar in outline to one in the finale of the Sonata in A flat, op 26.

Fragment in E flat, Biamonti 271
Possibly another version of the passage in Biamonti 270, this is now closer to the chordal version in op 26.

Andante in B flat, Biamonti 272
Four bars of either a beginning or a transition. The tonic-leading note descent in the melody suggests a passing resemblance with the slow movement of op 31 no 2, with which it shares a key.

Draft in F, Biamonti 273
Beginning in D minor and modulating to F, this progression is similar to one in the last movement of op 27 no 2 which, however, returns instead to the tonic.

Drafts in C and G, Biamonti 276
These similar fragments may belong to the Rondo in A, Biamonti 275.

Succession of Chords, Biamonti 278
Three unusual chords from 1793.

Allegro in C, Biamonti 279
A very typical Beethoven progression.

Passage in B, Biamonti 280
A single bar of dance-like perpetuum mobile.

(Finale) in G, Biamonti 282
Dr Arnold Schmitz identifies this jig-like fragment as probably belonging to a finale. There is a slightly unclear da capo indication; we follow the suggestion of The Unheard Beethoven here as to its interpretation.

Andante in D flat (Bagatelle), Biamonti 283
This piece probably dates from before 1800 and was later revised for inclusion in a set of bagatelles. The version here follows Barry Cooper’s edition. It has been previously recorded by Steven Beck on his disc “Beethoven: Cameos for Piano”.

Allegro in A flat and A, Biamonti 284
A miniature rondo from 1793. We follow the interpretation of the (untidy) autograph indicated by The Unheard Beethoven.

Notation in E flat, Biamonti 317
This fragment dates from 1802 and is from the Kessler sketchbook. It suggests two main works of that era; firstly the Bagatelle op 33 no 1 in its melodic outline, and secondly, in its outline and rhythm, the finale for the D minor sonata op 31 no 2.

Sketches for a Sonata in A minor, Biamonti 318
This is another 1802 sketch that Biamonti identifies with the finale of op 31 no 2. It is found among sketches for op 31 no 1, and headed “2da Sonata”.  Beethoven writes “prima parte” over the last two bars.

Sketches for the finale to the Eroica Variations, op 35, Biamonti 319
Also from the Kessler sketchbook of 1802, these are some fragmentary ideas that Beethoven discarded from his finale.

Pastorale in C, Biamonti 622
This short piece is found in the Scheide sketchbook and dates from 1815. The texture and wide stretches required suggest that this is in short score rather than being piano writing.

Fragment in G, Biamonti 720
This piece dates from 1819-20 and is found amid sketches for the Gloria from the Missa Solemnis. The unusual dissonances at the cadence-point are noteworthy. It was published in 1952 by the Beethovenhaus, which holds its sketchbook, BH 107.

Minuet in D minor, Gardi 10
This complete piece appears in the Fischhof miscellany of 1790-92 and may be either for piano or orchestra. The Gardi number refers to the research undertaken by Mark S. Zimmer and Willem Holsbergen (see below), who have brought the work to public notice.

Instrumental Draft, Biamonti 849
These bars appear in Nottebohm’s Beethoveniana II of 1887. Schindler, who cannot always be believed on such matters, says that these were the last notes written by Beethoven, ten or twelve days before his death in March 1827. If so, they would post-date the String Quintet in C, Hess 41, often referred to as “Beethoven’s last musical thought”. Because of its extreme brevity, I have played it twice on the recording.

This disc would not have been possible without the inspiration of the pioneering research carried out by Mark S. Zimmer and Willem Holsbergen. Their website The Unheard Beethoven (www.unheardbeethoven.org) contains free electronic midi files of each of these pieces as well as some completions, and detailed accounts of each piece that have provided much useful information. It is hoped that the opportunity to compare the interpretations of a living musician with the midi realisations will be found interesting and productive. My thanks also to Dominique Prevot of the Association Beethoven France et Francophonie, and Armando Orlandi (www.lvbeethoven.com) for their encouragement, and to James Green for information received.

Links and sources
Information about the Biamonti catalogue

The Beethoven Sketchbooks / History, Reconstruction Inventory. Douglas Johnson (early period), Alan Tyson (middle period), and Robert Winter (late period). Edited by Johnson. Berkeley: Univ. of California, 1985.

Autograph miscellany from circa 1786 to 1799: British Museum Additional Manuscript 29801, ff. 39-162 (The Kafka sketchbook). Joseph Kerman (ed.). London: British Library, 1970, 2 vols.


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Piano Music of Sir Frederic Cowen (1852-1935)

John Kersey, piano


Price: £12.99. Click the button below to purchase this CD securely online.

Total time: 61 mins 14 secs

1) La Coquette – Scherzo (1873) (4’57”)

2) Serenade (1869) (6’58”)

3) Rondo à la Turque (1870) (5’33”)

4) Twilight Reveries (no 1) (1869) (6’48”)

5) Fairy Flowers, Morceau de Salon (1869) (7’01”)

6) Berceuse, op 2 (6’51”)

The Language of the Flowers: suite (1880)

7. Daisy (Innocence) (2’48”);

8. Lilac (First Emotions of Love) (4’18”);

9. Fern (Fascination) (3’18”);

10. Columbine (Folly) (2’08”);

11. Yellow Jasmine (Elegance and Grace) (3’50);

12. Lily of the Valley (Return of Happiness) (6’18”)

Frederic Hymen Cowen (whose name was anglicised from Cohen) was known as “the English Schubert” in recognition of his contribution to English song. Also a composer of symphonic music, his work inhabits the world of fantasy and charm that characterises the high art of the Edwardian period. Born in Jamaica in 1852, he studied piano under Benedict, composition under Goss, and pursued further studies in Leipzig under Moscheles, Reinecke and others. After early success as a pianist, his subsequent career centred on composition and conducting, becoming principal conductor of the London Philharmonic, Hallé and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras.. He received doctorates from Cambridge and Edinburgh, and was knighted in 1911. In 1918 he received a professorship at the Guildhall School of Music. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica says “Cowen is never so happy as when treating of fantastic or fairy subjects”, and this may be seen clearly in the present selection of his piano music (the first such on disc). Elegant, melodically refined and not without some experimental moments, it is utterly of its time and a thoroughgoing pleasure.

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