St. Patrick's Day, Variations op. 107 nr. 4, for Piano and Violin (1818)

St. Patrick's Day, Variations op. 107 nr. 4, for Piano and Violin (1818)
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Performer: Rachel Barton Pine
Length: 4:59
Beethoven composed arrangements of a great many English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh folksongs for publisher George Thomson. Although he politely expressed the greatest admiration for Beethoven and his talents, in a letter of June 22, 1818 Thomson lamented that his arrangements "are much too difficult....My songs with your ritornellos and accompaniments do not sell!" But Thomson did not give up hope. Instead, he suggested that arranging some of the songs for flute or violin with piano as sets of variations might be more appealing. But Thomson again emphasized that they needed to be easy. The results of this commission are presently collected as opus 105 and opus 107, even though Beethoven again disregarded this admonition to keep the pieces easy to play.

In 1819 Thomson did publish the op.105 set, plus three numbers from op.107 (nrs. 2, 6 and 7), but apparently not the remaining 7 (Cooper Compendium, p.228). The flute versions are quite well known and are frequently recorded. Oddly enough, however, the violin versions of these airs and variations have rarely been heard; op. 105 was recorded once and op. 107 has never been completely recorded in a violin version.

Acclaimed Chicago violinist Rachel Barton Pine performed these variations, op. 105 and 107, live on WFMT-FM, 98.7 in Chicago, as part of the "Live from WFMT" series in January, 2005. The Unheard Beethoven worked with Ms. Barton Pine to assemble the most complete performance ever of Beethoven's works for violin and piano at one time, including advising her of the existence of these variations. The recordings of these works, with accompanist Matthew Hagle, are presented here with the kind permission of Rachel Barton Pine and WFMT.

Opus: 107

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