A Concerto Highlights Beethoven's Boldness

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A Concerto Highlights Beethoven's Boldness

Of the six concertos composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven, the "Triple Concerto" for piano, violin and cello, is the only one not written for a solo instrument. As the title suggests, this piece introduces an ensemble into a genre of music that usually is performed by an orchestra and a solo instrument. This piece stands in contrast to concertos performed by a small group of soloists and a full orchestra, which is usually classified as a concerto grosso, the principal orchestral music of the Baroque period, popular between the seventeenth and the mid-eighteenth century. In the late eighteenth century, a group of German musicians known as the Mannheim School revived the Baroque tradition, and Symphonia Concertante was the name used in the classical period for this type of composition.

Beethoven's "Triple Concerto" is a masterpiece full of the rich harmony characteristic of the Romantic period with the delicate touch of the Baroque style. Listening to the concerto is like hearing a charming conversation between a piano trio, which is complete in itself, and an orchestra. In this concerto, Beethoven gives more weight to the cello than the piano and violin parts, as if to compensate for not writing a cello concerto. Each movement of the concerto begins with a cello solo.

In 1969, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the maestro Herbert von Karajan, brought together cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, violinist David Oistrakh and pianist Sviatoslav Richter to create one of the greatest recordings in the history of music. Working as a team, these virtuosos brought out the best in Beethoven's "Triple Concerto," by expressing the marvelous subtleties of the Baroque style and the temperate sensibility of chamber music. The recording is wonderful, conveying the message that all classical music, whether it is a symphony or a concerto, starts from an ensemble.

by Lee Jang-jik

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