Piano Trio in F minor, Biamonti 637, Unv 10, first movement (Original sketch) (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
Performer: Gerd Prengel
The year 1815 saw a number of large-scale Beethoven works that never quite came to fruition. One of those is the aborted Piano Concerto Nr. 6, Hess 15, found elsewhere on this site. Another is this Piano Trio, which in its surviving form is quite unlike any other Beethoven composition. Did the Maestro abandon it as far too different to be accepted? It opens with a slow introduction featuring a wavelike triplet arpeggio in the piano, with the strings coming with a mournful phrase punctuated with sharp, almost painful rests. As the piano struggles against the sadness of strings, the tone metamorphoses into bitter defiance as a short four-note motif begins to dominate and drive the piece forward until it reaches a violent Allegro, where the motif establishes itself as the first theme.
This gradual emergence of the main theme is a procedure rather similar to the opening of the first movement of the Ninth Symphony. However, when in the Symphony this procedure is suggestive of the Creation of the Universe, the effect in the Trio is more modest, putting forward only the first strides of our ancestral Hominids on the African plains. When one also notes that the same tonal relationship plays an important role in both pieces (F minor - D flat major in Biamonti 637, D minor - B flat major in the Ninth -- in this Trio even more so than in the Symphony), then one gets the impression that Beethoven is toying here with ideas at an abstract level, which would only later be fully realized in the Ninth Symphony.
From the start of the Allegro, the autograph becomes a melodic sketch for the most part, tracing themes and motifs from one instrument to another. The whole lasts coherently for about 130 bars, at which point some penciled sketches that seem to be discontinuous are entered.
We present here the original score as it appears in manuscript Grasnick 29, held by the Berlin Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Willem has produced a realization of an entire large-scale movement based on this score and the additional sketches used in the completion are also found in the Scheide sketchbook held by William Scheide. Willem's completion appears in mp3 versions performed by both The Unheard Beethoven and composer Gerd Prengel. The full score of Willem's completion can be downloaded here for study. The score is copyright The Unheard Beethoven, Inc. (BMI). We are most grateful to the SPK and Mr. Scheide for providing us with copies of the sketch materials.