11-19-2019, 11:01 PM
Orchestration by Willy Hess and revised by Rene Leibowitz

Piano Concerto No. 0 in E Flat Major


Paul Jacobs, pianoforte
L'Orchestre Radio Symphonique De Paris
Rene Leibowitz, conductor

My transfer from original mono vinyl. Scans of utterly atrocious cover artwork included. If you want a CUE or a LOG, you can kiss my chuddies.

Piano concerto No. 0? Zero? Shurely shome mishtake.

This is no mistake. Beethoven wrote this concerto at the age of 14, when Mozart and Haydn were both still alive, still very active, and before they had completed their famous final works. This is not the Beethoven you know. This is not the phenomenally gifted composer who propelled music forward and contributed the most astonishing works to the repertoire. This is spotty teenager Beethoven, proto-Beethoven, Beethoven flexing his muscles.

Today, only the solo piano part survives, although there are indicators of how Beethoven's orchestration went in the score. Swiss composer Willy Hess first reconstructed the concerto, but his work was not admired by Polish-French conductor Ren� Leibowitz - he found it overbearing and disliked the cadenza, so revised it considerably and wrote his own cadenza specifically for this recording.

The handful of recordings it has received since have been quite similar, but this is the first.

If I'm honest... I find it amazingly boring. It's a little like lobotomised Mozart; superficially Mozartian on the surface, but completely lacking Mozart's flair and finesse. It's repetitive. It's bland. It's safe. And it's fascinating - to see how stupefyingly pedestrian the young Beethoven's music was makes the realisation that he became one of the world's greatest composers all the more astounding.

I can't find out much about this recording beyond what's on the sleeve notes - but it has a definite whiff of the mid to late 1950s. The recording is not good for its vintage, and was made for (and released by) The Classics Club, which was a popular British subscription record service in the 1950s and 1960s. They were cheap and nasty, but they recorded stuff that was hard to come by.

I've done what I can, but there's a limit to what can be achieved with a such a poor quality source recording.

I ordinarily wouldn't bother, but the rarity of the piece and the importance of the composer made it worth the effort.

A fascinating piece of musical history, a very rare recording, and a piece of music we wouldn't look at twice if it weren't by Ludwig Van Beethoven...

Please note that I have excluded the Mozart concerto on the other side of this record - it's a thoroughly unremarkable performance of an often-played and often-recorded concerto.

Enjoy :)

The original sleeve notes from the album...

This concerto, which was composed by Beethoven at the age of fourteen, was first published by Guido Adler in 1888 (in the supplementary volume of Breitkopf and Hartel's complete edition of the works of Beethoven). It merely consisted of the piano part (the manuscript of which contains various indications and corrections by Beethoven himself), the orchestral introductions, interludes and codas are reduced on two staves and which does not include any orchestral accompaniment. The actual orchestration was undertaken by Willy Hess, the Swiss musician, but for the purposes of this recording further editing has been undertaken by Rene Leib*owitz.

Mr. Leibowitz's main concern was to present as clear and precise a picture of the work as possible. He deleted a few horn passages, because they tended to overpower other instruments, while some have been transferred to other instruments. Many doublings of the piano part have also been exorcised, and in other places the harmony has been "filled out" where it was considered to be too thin.

Beethoven wrote no cadenza to the first movement and Mr. Hess' lengthy contribution seemed to Mr. Leibowitz not only completely out of proportion with the character of the work, but its academic structure somehow contradicted the inventive spirit of the movement. Mr. Leibowitz used certain elements of the movement and worked on the material as if he were actually composing and not merely filling a gap. The cadenza to the second movement is mostly by Beethoven. It breaks off after the sixth bar and needed a completion. In Mr. Leibowitz's view Mr. Hess' version seemed far from adequate, for it provided a harmonic continuation which contradicted Beethoven's last chord and his own "solution" had three aims: 1. Complete economy of means (only existing features are used); 2. a continuation in accord with the preceding bars; 3. main*taining of the proper proportions (only two bars were added, as opposed to Mr. Hess' six bars).

While preparing the recording of this concerto, both the soloist and conductor were amazed at its beauties and significant qualities. Beethoven is not usually regarded as a precocious composer, and it is surprising to discover so much invention, craft and originality in the work of a fourteen-year-old. Some points worth noting are the first piano entrance in the opening movement (which presents new material) and the rhapsodic retransition in the second movement, with its beautifully hrm ornamental piano design as well as its powerful crescendo.


11-20-2019, 03:37 AM
Thanks for the share…

11-20-2019, 12:35 PM
Very interesting and educational share, thanks.