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During the nineteenth century, the public image of Beethoven was gradually transfigured from that of a composer of genius to a true “paradigm” of an almost mythological standing; this process, to which many factors contributed, was in turn responsible, at least partly, for the development of a new concept of authorship, of copyright, of originality and creativity in art. Beethoven’s original works acquired an almost sacred status, both in their “letter” (the increasing veneration for textual accuracy) and in their “spirit” (the attempt to convey an “authentic” interpretation).
Within this framework, practices which were commonly in use and unproblematically admitted at Beethoven’s own time started to be perceived as unfitting, and, paradoxically, they caused the progressive abandonment of a substantial portion of the musical repertoire. This happened to the pieces recorded in this CD, which therefore represents a very welcome addition to the huge discography of Beethoven.
The master, in fact, was surrounded by pupils and students who worked, more or less closely, under his supervision, in a fashion not entirely different from that of Renaissance artistic workshops. The practice of transcribing and arranging other composers’ creations had been part of a musician’s standard training since many years; the pupil could gain thereby a deep insight into the work’s structure and compositional strategies, along with expertise in the field of instrumentation, while the master would give advice and comment on the result of the student’s efforts, after having proposed, in the first instance, the pieces to transcribe (which could frequently come from the master’s own oeuvre). Occasionally, these transcriptions could achieve a high level of artistry, and they could be published under the master’s name. Though today we may be perplexed by such a practice, it mirrored a common habit and had some justification: the original work was by the master, the pupil had worked under the master’s vigilance and thus the master was somehow responsible for the final result.
This is probably the context behind the Cello Sonata no. 6, op. 64, recorded here, which saw the light as a String Trio whose first sketches dated back to Beethoven’s youthful time in Bonn (probably around 1792) and which was completed in 1796 in Vienna. The influence of Mozart’s style is evident here, both on the formal and on the emotional plane, and the acknowledged model is Mozart’s Trio-Serenata KV 563; Beethoven here explored a wide range of moods and characters, ranging from the lyrical and expressive Adagio to the lighter and livelier atmospheres of the dances. The transcription for cello and piano was realised probably by either Franz Xaver Kleinheinz or Ferdinand Ries; obviously, however, Beethoven must have granted his blessing to the publication (1807), which was advertised very prominently in the newspapers of the time. It is likely that this was intended as a homage, a token of gratitude and a gift to Beethoven’s aristocratic patrons (first of all Archduke Rudolph), who would certainly have enjoyed playing such a delightful piece. The arrangement is skilful since it does not simply transform the String Trio’s cello part into that of the Sonata, but rather distributes cleverly the musical material between the two instruments.
In the case of Beethoven’s Sonata for Horn and Piano op. 17, the cello version was probably realized by the composer himself. The original work had been written in 1800: Beethoven had engaged himself to write a Sonata for the celebrated horn player Giovanni Punto, who must have been a first-rank virtuoso given the extreme technical demands found in this piece. According to Ries, Beethoven – as was not unusual for him – wrote the Sonata at the very last moment; notwithstanding this, it obtained an extraordinary success when it was premiered by Punto and Beethoven himself, in Vienna and in Pest. This acclaim prompted its eventual publication; however, in its original version, it would have had a very limited market, since only a few virtuoso horn players could face its technical challenges. Thus, the alternative version for cello and piano was promptly prepared, intervening sparsely but subtly on the original scoring in order to correspond more closely to the new instrumentation. The work’s origins, however, cannot be hidden: its main thematic elements are transparently conceived with the horn’s peculiar sound and musical gestures in mind. This does not prevent the cello version from having a charm of its own, also thanks to the extremely brilliant piano scoring which shines particularly in the Finale.
Both pieces bear witness to the richness of Beethoven’s musical invention: as happens to many great musical works, a change in the instrumental destination may reveal new facets of a well-known piece and increase our appreciation of its qualities, which are given new light by the new scoring.
Album Notes by Chiara Bertoglio
MATILDA COLLIARD: Born in 1987 into a musicians family, Matilda began studying cello at the age of 4. She graduated under the guidance of Maestro Alberto Drufuca at Novara Conservatory with highest honors. She followed master classes with Enrico Bronzi, Giovanni Gnocchi, Marianne Chen, Rafael Rosenfeld and Macha Yanouchevsky. Winner of many chamber music competitions, she specialized in the repertoire for cello and piano with Maestro Pier Narciso Masi at the International Piano Academy of Imola and later at the Academy of Music in Fusignano. She did a specialization in baroque cello with M. Gaetano Nasillo. From 2013 she started a new collaboration as duo cello and piano with Stefano Ligoratti. She founded, together with Stefano Ligoratti and Eugenio Francesco Chiaravalloti, the Musical Association "Colpi d'arte" in Milan with the aim is to promote music and culture. In 2016 she founded Trio Carducci. They have videorecorded the Trio élégiaque n.1 by Rachmaninov and they are completing the recording of Seasons by Tchaikovsky (transcription for piano trio by Goedike). In February 2017, with Trio Carducci has won 2nd prize at Grand Prize Virtuoso Competition and they have debut at Royal Albert Hall - Elgar Room in London. In 2018 they had a concert at the prestigious Saint Martin in the fields in London. In june they did a China tour. In december 2018, with Trio Carducci, she released a cd dedicated to A. Arensky for Brilliant Classics. In 2019 she founded Trio Zandonai with Lorenzo Tranquillini (Violin) and Francesco Maria Moncher (Piano). From september 2017 she's cello Teacher of Rudolf Steiner School in Milan.
Ligoratti, Stefano (Pianist) studied at the “G. Verdi” Conservatory of Milan. His Academic course was characterized by a certain musical versatility that led him to obtain many degrees. He graduated in Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Orchestral Conducting and Composition. He won several prizes in national and international competitions, including the prestigious European Piano Competition “Mario Fiorentini” of La Spezia (Italy, January 2010), where he won the first prize, the audience award and the prize for the youngest pianist. In 2005 he founded “ClassicaViva Orchestra” with which he often performs both as a soloist and a Conductor. As a pianist he has recorded CDs for the labels: “ClassicaViva” (“Variations … and beyond”, published in 2007; “Fantasies”, published in 2009; in duo with the violinist Yulia Berinskaya: “Violin in Blue” published in 2010 and “Violin in White” published in 2012); “Limen” (the CD/DVD “Sturm und Drang”, that will be soon released).
Ludwig van Beethoven: (b Bonn, bap. 17 Dec 1770; d Vienna, 26 March 1827). German composer. His early achievements, as composer and performer, show him to be extending the Viennese Classical tradition that he had inherited from Mozart and Haydn. As personal affliction – deafness, and the inability to enter into happy personal relationships – loomed larger, he began to compose in an increasingly individual musical style, and at the end of his life he wrote his most sublime and profound works. From his success at combining tradition and exploration and personal expression, he came to be regarded as the dominant musical figure of the 19th century, and scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence or failed to acknowledge it. For the respect his works have commanded of musicians, and the popularity they have enjoyed among wider audiences, he is probably the most admired composer in the history of Western music.