Sunday, 6 September, 2009

I recently came across a famous violin concerto of Beethoven while browsing idly, titled - The Kreutzer sonata. I hadnt heard this one before and so, did what every self-respecting net user does. Ask Google.

This led me to a youtube video. Was reading an ebook while waiting for it to buffer.

After a wait for 15 minutes, the chordal opening of the piece fill the silence, as if shaking me awake from a lull i would rather not submit myself to. The sweet notes of the violin then give way to the piano, and then the harmony begins, with the violin leading the way, the chords of the piano following suit. I relax as the introduction pans out, building up slowly, in pace and vigour.

The wikipedia article quotes a nice anecdote about this piece. Initially, Beethoven had written this piece at the behest of the English violinist - George Bridgetower. The 2 played this at a premier together, and Beethoven was so taken by Bridgetower's playing that he ran from the piano, while the concerto was in progress, to hug him in elation. He dedicated the piece to Bridgewater, after the recital. Howere, there was an unfortunate turn of events, as Bridgetower, under the influence of alcohol passed some disparaging remarks about a women whom Beethoven held in high regard. And as goes the pop culture saying ( aka. Vivek's dialog as he lies abandoned at the foot of a lorry, with Madhavan rushing off to court reema sen), dear old Ludwig von blew his top and withdrew the dedication. Instead, he dedicated the piece to Rudolphe Kreutzer, a violin virtuoso. Ironically, Kreutzer never performed this. On receipt of the manuscript, he declared it unplayable. However, to save face, Beethoven let the dedication stay in place, and to this day, we know Violin Sonata no. 9 as the Kreutzer sonata.

While I type this,the A major opening is slowly turning into a darker minor, with the piano leading the way at a teasing pace. What follows is a fiery A-minor duet, with notes rendered in staccato bursts. The pace eases out and there is a sharp contrast in the tone of the piece, as we progress to an F - minor melody section.

My favorite part, however, is the piano tarantella section, which crashes in on the calmness of the previous section, getting the listner to sit up and watch, reminiscent of the old tom and jerry cartoons. After flitting back and forth between major and minor, the piece moves into it's finale, ending with a rush of notes streaming from the violin, and chords rendered violently on the piano.

This is a wonderful video, with Nathan Milstein on the Violin and Georges Pludermacher on the piano. An extremely well rendered version of what is considered by many to be one of the toughest violin pieces to play.

If you havent listened to this piece yet, I recommend that you do, even though you have no taste in classical music. It will be truly worth your while.