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Beethoven Journey (pt. 2 of 6)

Proving that you can't be overfed Beethoven, we continue with the complete cycle of the composer's piano concertos. This time: the Concerto Number Four, led by Leif Ove Andsnes from the piano.

A typical concert program is like dinner: the meat and potatoes frequently being an overture, a concerto and a symphony. Sometimes, however, there are exceptional events, such as at the Beethovenfest in Bonn, where on three evenings, they presented all five of his piano concertos.

An added feature this hour is an exclusive interview with Beethovenfest director Nike Wagner.

We'll begin, however, with the latter part of Stravinsky's Apollon Musagète. In the story to this ballet music, Apollo teaches arts to three muses. Place of honor goes to the Terpsichore, the muse of dance, who has the privilege of performing the final pas de deux with Apollo. Then follows a coda and the apotheosis in which Apollo leads the muses to the sacred mountain Parnassus.

This music for strings alone lacks percussion but has distinct rhythms nonetheless. As Stravinsky explained, the art of poetry lies at the center of the piece - and here the strings imitate the rhythm of verse.

Ancient sculpture depicting Apollo and other gods

Stravinsky's ballet music invokes an ancient Greek myth in which the mighty god Apollo is the source of all the arts

The main work this hour is Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, whose middle movement is said to invoke the image of Orpheus in the Underworld. In an attempt to rescue his beloved Euridice from the dead, Orpheus tempts the shades and furies of Hell and ultimately charms them with his music.

The concerto dates from between 1803 and 1806 and was dedicated it to Archduke Rudolph of Austria, Beethoven's student and patron.

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Apollon Musagète (Apollo, leader of the muses)
Ballet in two scenes for string orchestra (1927-28) (excerpt:)

  • Pas de deux
  • Coda
  • Apotheosis

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano concerto No. 4 in G Major, op. 58

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Leif Ove Andsnes

Recorded by Deutsche Welle, Bonn (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 25, 2014

Rebroadcasting rights: one broadcast before March 3, 2016

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