restricted access XI: Movement as Energized Color: Op. 53
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XI 0 00 Movement as Energized Color OP.53 Once the technique to articulate non legato sixteenths has been developed, the keyboard patterns of the "Waldstein" lie well under the hands. Although the writing may lend itself to common virtuoso display, the extended piano and pianissimo writing (the first movement contains roughly twice as many indications of pp or p as f or f[) suggests a virtuosity through which notes shimmer instead of blind. Ironically, the raw material out of which this quality of sound was created was something quite earthbound: exercises in the form of sequential scale passages in tenths, in contrary motion, and in canon. The sketchbook containing these exercises (and, a few pages later, sketches for Op. 53) was used by Beethoven primarily in the year 1803; it also contains sketches for the Third Symphony, Leonore, the Fifth Symphony , and the Triple Concerto, as well as the opening measures of the Fourth Piano Concerto. Ex. 11.1. BEETHOVEN SKETCHES TRANSCRIBED BY NOTTEBOHM. \: -- 1 ~ ..~.- -- Movement as Energized Color 145 As Nottebohm writes, The keyboard exercises ... have a similar appearance. Certainly Beethoven did not just write them out, but instead he also played them along with others that were not written. One may assume that this cultivation of piano playing and a manner of practicing was not without influence on the brilliance and the running nature of the piano composition that was taken up soon after the notation of the exercises.' He then quotes Beethoven's first sketch for the "Waldstein," material that will form the climax of the development, the descent into the reprise. As Nottebohm remarks, "The predominant character is thereby established." Ex. 11.2. OP. 53, I, SKETCH, FROM NOTTEBOHM. ) ~ ~ . ". . -,j' -~ t ~~~~-- ,II ,II ,II ,II ,II ,II ,II ,II ~~..... Why would Beethoven have been attracted to Hanon-like exercise material? The Sonatas 146 What musical qualities would he have heard in these scale exercises and the perpetual canon that could be lifted to the level of a major work? As the grieving woman in Amy Lowell's Poem "Patterns" protests as she walks the "patterned garden paths" in her "stiff brocaided gown," thinking about her lover's death, ... For my passion Wars against the stiff brocade. Like gymnasts and trapeze performers, keyboardists-when hands and fingers are busy with quick leaps and hand-crossings and fast octaves and passages-have always been engaging to watch, especially if they act out the score with stagestamping or grimacing. One might imagine the many eyes, now closed, that were riveted for the moment on the display shown in Ex. 11.3. The rhythm and the pattern of sixths last throughout all but two of the succeeding eleven measures. Both the Cramer piece and the "Waldstein" are lengthy works in which technical patterns prevail. Unlike a short character piece using such patterns, such as a Chopin etude or prelude, a sonata-allegro depends on, if not conflict, departure and return within the musical plot. How did Beethoven avoid writing an extended exercise when he was creating the Op. 53 from exercise material? Ex. 1l.3. CRAMER, Or. 6 NO.3, I, EXCERPTS. Allegro moderato Movement as Energized Color 147 As Nottebohm remarks, Beethoven's first sketches are often commonplace, but they contain some detail that the composer's mind seized as a new starting point. For example, the sketch for Andante favori WoO 57, originally intended as the slow movement for this sonata, illustrates the sort of kernel to which Nottebohm was referring (Ex. 1104). Ex. 11.4. WoO 57, SKETCH, FROM NOTTEBOHM. Andante A .., I - I I -I pp -. .. .. The exercises and first sketches for the first movement of the sonata indicate that it would be a "motion" piece. What kept it from turning into a frenzied running in circles was a "kernel" of sameness that was made to sound motionless The Sonatas 148 through simplification. Eighths were substituted for the sixteenths in the initial sketch, and, by beginning after the downbeat, the repeated thirds were made to sound as though they had been snatched up in a rhythmic movement already begun -as though the piece had already been playing through all eternity. The player hears this ongoing, seemingly never-ending rhythm and simply gets in step. Beginning with a single note on the downbeat, one may feel like a runner in a relay race, grasping the wand from Beethoven. The surest way to banish the spirit of the music is to resolve to play it comfortably. Beethoven...