Brilliant Classics

Beethoven: Con alcune licenze

Beethoven: Con alcune licenze
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
Artist Andrea Molteni piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number PCL10309
EAN code 5029365103091
Release May 2024

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About this release

New recordings of late Beethoven at his most heroic and visionary.

Andrea Molteni plays Scarlatti with ‘ringing tone and virtuosic agility’ reported Fanfare magazine of the Italian pianist’s collection of sonatas on Piano Classics (PCL10233). The Art Music Lounge praised his bold juxtaposition of Petrassi and Dallapiccola (PCL10222) as ‘a strange but wonderful album’, noting that ‘Molteni sparkles as he rips through the music with energy and élan’.

These qualities hold him in good stead for the rigours of late Beethoven. With his ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata of 1818, the composer challenged pianists and listeners alike to assimilate a work unprecedented in its length and complexity. Motivically linked by a descending third through the eventful course of its four movements, the Sonata opens with a precipitous Allegro. A mordant Scherzo then introduces a long and spiritually engaged slow movement, before the mighty finale hurtles towards its epic conclusion through a densely wrought fugue. In each aspect, then, the Sonata outlines blueprints for what would become known as Beethoven’s late style, whether expressed in solo, chamber, orchestral or vocal music. The most celebrated single result of that late style is the Grosse Fuge which Beethoven wrote as the finale to his String Quartet Op.131. Persuaded by his publisher to substitute it for a less arduous conclusion, Beethoven left this mighty fugue to stand on its own, and so it has stood ever since, as a ferocious yet rewarding exercise of concentration and contrapuntal art. Molteni presents it in a 19th-century arrangement made by Louis Winkler which has attracted surprisingly few recordings.

At the centre of Molteni’s recital, the Sonata Op.110 offers salutary contrast. Here too are examples of heroism, rustic humour and melancholy, but distilled to an essence of vitality.

- This remarkable program brings together three late works by Ludwig van Beethoven in which the Fugue plays an essential and pivotal part.
- Beethoven, renowned as a revolutionary, approached the fugue with both reverence and innovation. Especially in his later works he used the form to bridge the classical and romantic eras, transcending traditional boundaries, and infusing the fugue structure with dramatic intensity and emotional depth. The Grosse Fuge Op. 133 and the Fugue from the Hammerklavier Sonata are of near monstrous proportions and impact, shattering examples of complexity and innovation: ‘For me the Große Fugue is not only the greatest work of Beethoven but about the most astonishing piece in music literature.’ (Glenn Gould): ‘The Great Fugue now seems to me the most perfect miracle in Music. It is also the most contemporary piece I know and contemporary forever’! (Stravinsky). The fugues from the Piano Sonata Op. 110 are of a more intimate nature, but no less varied and charged with emotion.
- The Grosse Fuge Op. 133, originally for string quartet, is played on this recording in the piano transcription by Louis Winkler.
- Played by one of the most interesting young Italian pianists, Andrea Molteni, presenting an absolutely faithful and transparent rendition, astonishing in its rhythmic verve yet emotionally fully engaged.
- Molteni successfully recorded two previous CDs for Piano Classics: the complete piano works by Dallapiccola and Goffredo Petrassi (PCL 10222), as well as a superb selection of Scarlatti Sonatas (PCL 10233).
- The CD title ‘Con alcune licenze’ refers to the title which Beethoven gave to these fugues: Fuga Con Alcune Licenze’, meaning “a fugue with certain liberties’. He never spoke a truer word…


Track list

Disk 1

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Sonate für das Hammer-Klavier, Op. 106: I. Allegro
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Sonate für das Hammer-Klavier, Op. 106: II. Scherzo (Assai vivace - Presto - Prestissimo - Tempo I)
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Sonate für das Hammer-Klavier, Op. 106: III. Adagio sostenuto (Appassionato e con molto sentimento)
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Sonate für das Hammer-Klavier, Op. 106: IV. Largo - Un poco più vivace - Tempo I - Allegro - Tempo I - Prestissimo - Allegro risoluto
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonate No. 31, Op. 110: I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonate No. 31, Op. 110: II. Allegro molto
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonate No. 31, Op. 110: III. Adagio ma non troppo - più adagio - Andante - Adagio - Meno adagio - Adagio - Adagio ma non troppo - Fuga - L’istesso tempo di arioso - L’istesso tempo della fuga poi a poi di nuovo vivente
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Große Fuge, Op. 133: I. 8. Allegro - Meno mosso e moderato - Allegro - Meno mosso e moderato - Allegro molto e con brio -