Piano Fantasies Inspired by Beethoven’s Symphonies

GALINA VRACHEVA (b.196?): Beethoven Paraphrases from Symphonies Nos. 3-9.

Catalogue Number: 07U075

Label: Solo Musica

Reference: SM 280

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Vracheva is a composer-pianist who declares a particular affinity with Beethoven, and has performed the piano concerti with her own cadenzas. She takes us back to the 18th and 19th century, when performers and composers were expected to improvise and variants of their own works, and others', were customary. Ronald Stevenson, also a devoted student of unfashionable traditions, sometimes used to improvise links between successive works of the period, and his penchant for transcriptions of every kind was legendary, so he would probably have found this very much to his liking. Vracheva's approach to the different symphonies varies; these are not transcriptions or arrangements of the symphonies, being instead abbreviated paraphrases or fantasias on motifs or themes, often treated quite differently than in their original context and with little attempt to preserve the original symphonic structure (though other classical forms that Beethoven would have recognised are often substituted. The works are all in the style and vocabulary of Beethoven, often reflecting his characteristic cadences and modulations and unexpected diversions. Sometimes, as in the first movement of No.3, the 'new' piece resembles a sonata development on Beethoven's theme, just not the one that Beethoven wrote, or the scherzo of the same work, which appears as a kind of varied rondo theme with episodes from elsewhere in the work. Similarly, the 5th starts the way you'd expect it to, then turns into a Beethovenian, not-Beethoven development. This and the way the remaining movements are treated form a really quite convincing Beethoven sonata not by Beethoven. The slow movement of No.7 is presented as a set of variations, straying far from the mood of the original as classical and romantic variations were wont to do, before introducing material from the first movement, and then ending with a final variation of the slow movement, in a continuous fantasia lasting a quarter of an hour. Occasionally, but rarely, as in the introduction to No.4 and the first movement and last based on No.9, orchestral textures are suggested, but both soon resume idiomatic piano writing. The 9th is again presented as another 'sonata on themes by ...' which, perhaps because of the overwhelming character of the original, preserves more of the mood of Beethoven's work than elsewhere, though the fugato scherzo, sans tympani thunderclaps is an interesting surprise. 2 CDs. Galina Vracheva (piano).


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