label have released a recording of Beethoven’s
late orchestral works which features
the first movement of the Symphony No.10
as realised by Dr. Barry Cooper.
later years he composed several orchestral
works which, with the exception of the
symphonies, are largely unknown. Virtually
all the orchestral pieces composed during
the period of his last three symphonies
from 1811 to 1827 are contained on this
release; the exception being Wellington’s
Victory Op. 91. The majority of these
have associations with works that Beethoven
wrote for the stage.
We are told that whilst
composing his ‘Choral’ Symphony
No. 9 Beethoven also wrote several motifs
for his projected Symphony No. 10 (1st
movement) later adding more sketches
up to his death in 1827. It appears
that Beethoven’s assorted sketches became
scattered at various locations. The
work was virtually ignored until the
1980s when musicologist Dr. Barry Cooper
arranged and realised the sketches with
the primary intention of providing a
performing version of what Beethoven
had in mind.
WoO 3 was sketched by Beethoven
in 1822 as a possible finale
for a symphony and he later re-worked
the music into a short orchestral Minuet.
Composed for a one-act singspiel the
Overture ‘The Ruins of Athens’ Op.
113 was composed in 1811. The overture
is a portrayal of Mercury and Minerva
lamenting the loss of culture in nineteenth
century Athens as compared with the
Athens of ancient Greece. The Overture
‘Nameday’ Op.115 is Beethoven’s
only concert-overture. He composed the
work over several years and described
the score as an ‘overture for any occasion’.
In 1811 Beethoven composed the Overture
‘King Stephen’ Op. 117 for the opening
of a Budapest theatre. The singspiel
celebrates the victory of Hungary’s
great benefactor, King Stephen, over
the nation’s enemies.
By the time Beethoven
had completed his only opera Fidelio
in 1814 he had already composed
three overtures for the score (Leonora
Nos. 1-3). The Overture ‘Fidelio’
Op. 72 became the fourth overture
to the opera but it was not quite ready
in time for first performance. In 1815
Beethoven composed some incidental music
for Friedrich Duncker’s stage work Leonora
Prohaska. Ironically the work never
reached the stage and is now lost. The
Funeral march from ‘Leonora
Prohaska’ WoO 96 from the incidental
music is an orchestral arrangement that
Beethoven made from a movement originally
written for his Piano Sonata Op.
26. The final work on this release
is the Overture ‘The Consecration
of the House’ Op. 124 composed in
1822. This is a reworking of his Overture
‘The Ruins of Athens’ Op. 113. With
many noticeable influences of Handel
the work celebrates the opening of the
Josephstadt Theatre in Vienna.
The Czech Chamber Philharmonic
Orchestra give really fine performances.
Under their principal guest conductor
Douglas Bostock the orchestra offer
an abundance of enthusiasm and undoubted
energy. In Dr. Cooper’s realisation
of the Symphony No. 10 (1st
movement) the players are particularly
successful in contrasting the gentle
and lyrical episodes against the stormy
and exuberant passages. I would single
out the Overture ‘The Ruins of Athens’
Op. 113 which is given a strong
and vital performance by the Czech Chamber
Philharmonic that really brings out
the sense of celebration in the score.
The recorded sound
is acceptable and the concise annotation
from Barry Cooper is interesting and
informative. Fascinating and rewarding
late orchestral works from Beethoven.