Recordings of the WoO 99 Part-Songs Analyzed

One of the more challenging segments of the recorded Beethoven is the Italian part-songs written 1801-1802 as part of the composer’s studies with Antonio Salieri. The Kinsky-Halm catalogue (KH) and the catalogue of Willy Hess are a confusing mess of entries, often in seemingly random order, and KH in particular suffered from being an incomplete list of the songs. However, the recently issued 2nd edition of Kinsky-Halm (KH2) has reorganized the old WoO 99 entry completely to make more sense and incorporate some additional songs identified by Willy Hess and also two more added to the list since Hess.  It will be of use to first provide a version of the concordance contained in KH2 to make it clear what we are talking about.

WoO 99/
1. Bei labbri che amore, Duet. Old KH #1, Hess 211
2. Ma tu tremi, o mio tesoro, Terzet. Old KH #6, Hess 212
3. E pur fra le tempeste, One voice. No old KH #, Hess 232
4. Sei mio ben, Duet. No old KH #, Hess 231

5. Giura il nocchier:
5a. Terzet. Old KH #5b, Hess 227
5b. Quartet in C. No old KH #, Hess 230
5c. Quartet in B-flat. Old KH #5a, Hess 221

6. Ah rammenta, Duet.  No old KH # or Hess #.
7. Chi mai di questo core, Terzet. Old KH #2, Hess 214
8. Scrivo in te, Duet. Old KH #11, Hess 215
9. Per te d’amico aprile, Terzet. Old KH #9, Hess 216

10. Nei campi e nelle selve:
10a. Quartet 1st version Old KH #7a, Hess 217
10b. Quartet 2nd version Old KH #7b, Hess 220

11. Fra tutte le pene:
11a. Duet. Old KH # 3a, Hess 208
11b. Terzet. Old KH #3b, Hess 225/209

11c. Quartet. Old KH #3c, Hess 224/210

12. Salvo tu vuoi lo sposo:
12a. One voice. No old KH #, no Hess #
12b. Duet. No old KH #, Hess 228

13. Quella cetra ah pur tu sei:
13a. Terzet. Old KH #10b, Hess 218
13b. Quartet in F. Old KH #10c, Hess 219
13c. Quartet in G. Old KH #10a, Hess 213

14. Già la notte s’avvicina:
14a. Terzet, Old KH #4b, Hess 223
14b. Quartet, Old KH #4a, Hess 222

15. Silvio amante disperato, Quartet (lost), Old KH#12, Hess 226.

That amounts to 27 songs and variants.  Three of these have never been recorded to my knowledge: WoO 99/6 is incomplete.  WoO 99/12a is for a single voice, though it probably could be set to piano, similar to what Willy Hess did for WoO 99/3 (Hess 232), E pur fra le tempeste. WoO 15 remains lost, though the incipit recorded by Thayer survives and can be found on this site.  Look for WoO 99/6 and WoO 99/12a to be added to this website in the not-too-distant future.

The balance of the other 24 songs have been recorded at least once, and can be found on the three complete Beethoven collections from Brilliant Classics Beethoven Complete Edition (BC), the Deutsch Grammophon Complete Beethoven Edition, Vol. 18: Secular Vocal Works (DG) and the Amado Classics/Cascade Complete Beethoven Edition, Vol. 18: Secular Vocal Works (AC) set. Both of the latter are out of print, but still available from a variety of sources. There was also a 1998 recording of six of the songs that make up WoO 99 on the Arts label, together with a random assortment of the folk song arrangements, but that CD is the identical to CD 72 in the Cascade set, so I have not treated it separately.

=========================================

I have put together a comparison of the tracks on these three “complete Beethovens” as arranged in the new Kinsky-Halm (KH2), by listening to each song with the scores in front of me.  For each of the songs and variants, I have indicated which set includes them, the CD and track numbers, and the timing. This exercise also pointed out that Beethoven created some quite lovely little melodies for these exercises, and they deserve to be better known.  These are complete little songs, quite attractive in nature, and are nowhere near as tedious as the counterpoint exercises done for Haydn. They absolutely can be enjoyed on their own terms as mature Beethoven compositions.

Each of the three sets have some faulty descriptions, which I have noted briefly in the comparison. Additional details on these errors are found at the end of this post. If you want to know which one set to purchase, the Brilliant Classics set is the most complete. However, the recordings of all three sets have merit.

COMPARISON OF THE ITALIAN PART-SONGS WoO 99 

On Brilliant Classics CD 70, Deutsch Grammophon (CD 76 of the Complete Beethoven Edition = Vol. 18, disc 2) and Am@do Classics (Cascade), CDs 72 and 73

WoO 99/
1. Bei labbri che amore, Duet (s,t). Old KH #1, Hess 211. BC 70-7 (1:26), DG 76-1 (1:20), AC 73-9 (1:38)

2. Ma tu tremi, o mio tesoro, Terzet (s,a,t). Old KH #6, Hess 212. BC 70-13 (1:39), DG 76-6 (1:45), AC 73-14 (1:57)

3. E pur fra le tempeste, One voice (t). No old KH #, Hess 232. BC 70-30 (0:55)

4. Sei mio ben, Duet (s,t). No old KH #, Hess 231. BC 70-2 (0:46), DG 76-2 (0:39), AC 73-7 (0:46)

5. Giura il nocchier:
5a. Terzet (s,a,b). Old KH #5b, Hess 227. BC 70-16 (0:42) [misidentified on the sleeve as the 1st version of the Fra tutte le pene Terzet], DG 76-7 (0:38), AC 73-13 (0:37)

5b. Quartet in C (s,a,t,b). No old KH #, Hess 230. BC 70-27 (0:53), DG 76-19 (0:43), AC 73-6 (0:43)

5c. Quartet in B-flat (s,a,t,b). Old KH #5a, Hess 221. BC 70-28 (0:46), DG 76-20 (0:43), AC 72-4 (0:44)

6. Ah rammenta, Duet (t,b; incomplete).  No old KH # or Hess #.

7. Chi mai di questo core, Terzet (s,t,b). Old KH #2, Hess 214. BC 70-19 (1:31), DG 76-11 (1:02), AC 72-1 (0:56)

8. Scrivo in te, Duet (s,t). Old KH #11, Hess 215. BC 70-9 (1:10), DG 76-3 (0:53), AC 73-19 (1:07)

9. Per te d’amico aprile, Terzet (s,a,b). Old KH #9, Hess 216. BC 70-17 (0:54) [misidentified on the sleeve as the 2nd version of the Fra tutte le pene Terzet], DG 76-8 (0:47), AC 73-16 (0:45)

10. Nei campi e nelle selve:

10a. Quartet (s,a,t,b) 1st version Old KH #7a, Hess 217. BC 70-21 (1:22), DG 76-13 (1:15), AC 73-15 (1:33)

10b. Quartet (s,a,t,b) 2nd version Old KH #7b, Hess 220. BC 70-22 (1:40), DG 76-14 (1:47), AC 72-5 (1:39)

11. Fra tutte le pene:
11a. Duet (t,b). Old KH # 3a, 1st, uncorrected, version Hess 208 [Biamonti 142]. BC 70-11 (1:26) [misidentified on the sleeve as the 2nd version], DG 76-4 (1:19), AC 73-4 (1:19) [misidentified on the sleeve as the corrected version of the Quartet, Hess 210]

11a. Duet (t,b). Old KH # 3a, 2nd, corrected, version Hess 208 [Biamonti 143]. BC 70-12 (1:13) [misidentified on the sleeve as Salvo tu voi lo sposo], AC 73-10 (1:15)

11b. Terzet (s,a,t). Old KH #3b, 1st, uncorrected, version, Hess 225. BC 70-14 (1:33) [misidentified on the sleeve as the Terzet version of Giura il nocchier]

11b. Terzet (s,a,t). Old KH #3b, 2nd, corrected, version, Hess 209. BC 70-15 (1:17) [misidentified on the sleeve as Per te d'amico aprile], DG 76-9 (1:05) [misidentified on the sleeve as the 1st version Hess 225]

11c. Quartet (s,a,t,b). Old KH #3c, 1st, uncorrected, version, Hess 224. BC 70-23 (1:09), DG 76-15 (1:06), AC 73-11 (1:13)

11c. Quartet (s,a,t,b). Old KH #3c, 2nd, corrected, version, Hess 210. BC 70-24 (1:20), DG 76-16 (1:17), AC 72-2 (1:26) [misidentified on the sleeve as the 1st version of the Terzet, Hess 225]

12. Salvo tu vuoi lo sposo:

12a. One voice (s). No old KH #, no Hess #

12b. Duet (s,t). No old KH #, Hess 228. BC 70-10 (0:51) [misidentified on the sleeve as Fra tutte le pene duet setting, 1st version], DG 76-5 (0:35), AC 73-5 (0:43)

13. Quella cetra ah pur tu sei:

13a. Terzet (s,t,b). Old KH #10b, Hess 218. BC 70-18 (0:54), DG 76-10 (0:59), AC 73-17 (1:04) [misidentified as the Quartet version in G, old KH WoO 99/10a, Hess 213]

13b. Quartet in F (s,a,t,b). Old KH #10c, Hess 219. BC 70-26 (0:45), DG 76-18 (0:39), AC 72-6 (0:41)

13c. Quartet in G (s,a,t,b). Old KH #10a, Hess 213. BC 70-25 (0:53), DG 76-17 (0:59), AC 73-18 (1:00) [misidentified as the Terzet version, old KH WoO 99/10b, Hess 218]

14. Già la notte s’avvicina:

14a. Terzet (a,t,b), Old KH #4b, Hess 223. BC 70-20 (0:42), DG 76-12 (0:38), AC 73-12 (0:35)

14b. Quartet (s,a,t,b), old KH #4a, Hess 222. BC 70-29 (0:42), DG 76-21 (0:43), AC 72-3 (0:51)

15. Silvio amante disperato, Quartet (s,a,t,b). Lost. Old KH#12, Hess 226.

======================================

In preparing this comparison, I used the following texts:

Biamonti = Biamonti, Giovanni. Catologo cronologico e tematico delle opera di Beethoven. Turin: ILTE 1968. 1201 pages.

KH2= Dorfmüller, Kurt; Gertsch, Norbert; Ronge, Julia. Ludwig van Beethoven Thematisch-bibliographisces Werkverzeichnis, revised from the original catalogue by Georg Kinsky and Hans Halm. Munich: Henle. 2014, 2 vols. (volume 2 only, 1007 pages)

Ronge, Julia, ed. Beethovens Kompositionsstudien bei Joseph Haydn, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger und Antonio Salieri (Beethoven Werke Abt. XIII, Part 1, 3 vols.), Munich: Henle 2014. (volume 1, 307 pages).

O care selve, WoO 119 dates from early in Beethoven’s time in Vienna, about 1794 or 1795, and was considered by him for inclusion in the set of songs op.52.  It, like Languisco e moro, Hess 229 (found in the Wielhorsky sketchbook of 1803), was not in fact part of the studies with Salieri and is thus not properly included in WoO 99.

ERRATA:

The already complicated catalogue status of these Italian partsong studies is not at all helped by the fact that every one of the three sets has some errors in identification of the tracks in the accompanying documentation.  Following is a list of the errors I was able to find.

On my Brilliant Classics Beethoven Edition (the yellow box, which I think is the 3rd version of this box set from BC and not the current orange box; I believe the errors are still present on the current box as well), CD 70, tracks 10, 11 and 12 are misidentified on the disc envelope:

Track 10 “Fra tutte le pene I (T,B)” is really Salvo tu voi lo sposo, duet (s,t), Hess 228, KH2 12b (no old KH number).  The timing listed on the CD envelope of 1:15 is also incorrect; it should be 0:51.

Track 11 “Fra tutte le pene II (T,B)” is really WoO 99/11a Fra tutte le pene (t,b), Hess 208, Old KH WoO 99/3a, 1st, uncorrected, ver. Biamonti 142

Track 12 “Salvo tu voi lo sposo? (S,T)” is really WoO 99/11a Fra tutte le pene (t,b), Hess 208, Old KH WoO 99/3a, 2nd, corrected, version.

Similarly, tracks 14, 15, 16 and 17 are misidentified on the disc envelope.

Track 14 “Giura il nocchier (S,A,B)” is actually WoO 99/11b Fra tutte le pene (s,a,t), Old KH WoO 99/3b, Hess 225 (1st, uncorrected, ver.)

Track 15 “Per te d’amico aprile (S,A,B)” is actually WoO 99/11b Fra tutte le pene (s,a,t), Old KH WoO 99/3b, Hess 209 (2nd, corrected, ver.)

Track 16 “Fra tutte le pene I (S,A,T)” is actually WoO 99/5a Giura il nocchier (s,a,b) Old KH WoO 99/5b, Hess 227

Track 17 “Fra tutte le pene II (S,A,T)” is actually WoO 99/9 Per te d’amico aprile (s,a,b), Old KH WoO 99/9, Hess 216

DGG Complete Beethoven Edition (CD 76; vol. 18 disc 2):

For some unknown reason Willy Hess lumped both the first and second versions of the duet Fra tutte le pene (t,b) into Hess 208, while he separated the first and second versions for other settings. The second versions typically incorporate Salieri’s corrections, while the first versions are usually what Beethoven submitted for correction in the course of his studies.  Track 4 on CD 76 is the first (uncorrected) version of Hess 208, which is separately catalogued by Prof. Biamonti as Biamonti 142 (the corrected version is Biamonti 143).

Track 9 is misidentified as the first version of the Terzet setting of Fra tutte le pene, WoO 99/11b, Old KH WoO 99/3b, Hess 225; it is actually the second, corrected, version, Hess 209.

Am@do Classics/Cascade Beethoven Complete Edition (CDs 72 and 73):

CD 72 Track 2 is not as claimed Hess 225 (the uncorrected 1st version of the Terzet setting of Fra tutte le pene), but is in fact the corrected 2nd version of the Quartet setting of the poem, Hess 210.  The KH2 catalogue number is WoO 99/11c.

CD 73 Track 4 is identified as Hess 210 (corrected version of the Quartet setting of Fra tutte le pene) but it is really the 1st, uncorrected version of the Duet (t,b) setting (WoO 99/11a or old KH WoO 99/3a) of the same poem, Hess 208, or Biamonti 142.

CD 73 Track 15 While it is a setting of Quella cetra ah pur tu sei, it is not the Quartet version in G, WoO 99/13c, old KH WoO 99/10a Hess 213.  It actually is the Terzet (s,t,b) version, WoO 99/13a, old KH WoO 99/10b, Hess 218.

CD 73 Track 16 is the Quartet version of Quella cetra ah pur tu sei WoO 99/13c, old KH WoO 99/10a, Hess 213, not the Terzet version WoO 99/10b Hess 218 (i.e., the descriptions of tracks 15 and 16 are swapped).

—-Mark S. Zimmer, Project Director, The Unheard Beethoven.