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Another youngest son, of Leopold II and also destined for the church, was Archduke Rudolph, who amassed an astonishing total of Beethoven dedications, including the last two piano concertos, the 'Archduke' trio, 'Hammerklavier' sonata and finally the Missa solemnis, embarked on for the Archduke's instalment as cardinal-archbishop of Olmütz (now in the Czech Republic) but completed three years too late. The Archduke was a gifted musician, taking piano, theory and composition lessons from Beethoven. When hardly more than twenty, he joined two other nobles in providing Beethoven with a pension for life. The piano part of the Triple Concerto was probably designed for the young Archduke; it was certainly the case with the last violin sonata, Op 96. As dedicatee, he gave the first performance with Jacques Rode [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:22]. Whether the Scherzo went equally deftly at the première one cannot know; possibly the original players managed a more legato line at the start of the Adagio than the present team.

Beethoven claimed to Goethe that he had rapped Rudolph over the knuckles for keeping him waiting in an anteroom, and doubtless the composition lessons became increasingly irksome. But the Archduke persisted so as to leave a considerable body of work, mainly for piano or chamber combinations. Like Beethoven, Schubert and many others, he was invited to submit a 'Diabelli' variation, and managed an improbable fugue out of the commonplace little waltz. More important is his set of variations on a theme by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, nephew of Frederick the Great, who received compliments from Beethoven as a pianist as well as the dedication of Piano Concerto No 3. He was killed three days before the battle of Jena. There is a certain irony, in view of Russia's being joined by both Austria and Prussia in eliminating Poland from the map of Europe, that one of the most attractive variations is a Polacca [listen -- track 27, 0:00-1:07]. The infectious zest of the playing is characteristic of much of the CD.

Copyright © 29 October 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


Beethoven Explored Volume 1

MSV CD2003 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 60' 2003 David Lefeber, Metier Sound & Vision

Peter Sheppard Skaerved, violin; Aaron Shorr, piano

Beethoven: Sonata for piano and violin in G Op 96; Rondeau in G WoO41; Twelve Variations in F on 'Se vuol ballare' from 'Le nozze di Figaro' by W A Mozart WoO 40; Erzherzog Rudolph: Variations in F (1810) for violin and piano



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