lunes, 14 de noviembre de 2022

Beethoven, "Rage over a lost penny", rondo / Yuja Wang

The manuscript of Beethoven's sprightly and charming rondo entitled Rondo alla ingharese quasi un capriccio was "lost" for nearly one hundred and twenty years. Today it is a favorite of pianists, to be used as a graceful encore, but during Beethoven's lifetime, it is unlikely to have been heard on any stage. The manuscript, apparently incomplete, was found among Beethoven's belongings after his death in 1827.

The following year, it was published by his friend, colleague, and publisher Anton Diabelli, who reportedly concealed the fact that the composition appeared to be unfinished. After the 1828 publication, the manuscript disappeared and was only rediscovered in the USA in 1945. This time it was found among the belongings of a lady named Noble, who had kept it in her possession for at least 20 years. And indeed, the original shows some discrepancies with the later versions of the Diabelli edition, all based on it.

In any case, with the discovery in hand, it was possible to know the time of the piece's composition, since the manuscript, in its last pages, contains sketches of works of known date, the years 1795-98. Thus it could be concluded that the rondo belonged to the same period. It is the work of a Beethoven in his twenties, approaching his thirties, living in Vienna for at least three years.

"Rage over a lost penny"
The piece is also known by the curious title "Rage over a lost penny, vented in a caprice". The words appear written in the manuscript but not by Beethoven's hand. It is speculated that they could be the work of his friend and first biographer Anton Schindler, who was known for often taking liberties with his famous friend, which led more than once to angry, though transitory, disagreements.

A "harmless rage"
Fantasizing that the master had indeed drawn inspiration from a fit of passing anger, Robert Schumann (who by Beethoven's death was 17 years old) would later write " would be difficult to find anything more cheerful than this Caprice... It is about the kindest, most harmless anger, similar to what one feels when one cannot take one's foot out of one's boot."

Marked allegro vivace, the rondo combines the traditional outline of the form with Beethoven's unique inventiveness for variations.
The rendition is by the brilliant Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang. The piece lasts less than six minutes. 

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