Ludwig van Beethoven.
“Central to his existence … was the longing to help mankind raise itself up out of the muck of ignorance and pain.” The music historian Harvey Sachs in his book The Ninth. What a good moment, then, to focus on the master, what a good month to spend time in his music.
This Monday, we would like to introduce to you a new recording by Duo Stephanie and Saar as part of their series of recordings that challenge listeners to hear iconic works in new guises. The catalyst was Beethoven's own arrangement of the famous Grosse Fuge op. 133; the selection further includes Hugo Ulrich and Robert Wittman's stately transcription of the op. 130 string quartet to which the iconic fugue originally belonged, alongside Schubert's brooding F minor Fantasie, D. 940.
Here is what Marin Alsop, conductor, has said about the Cavatina: "Especially in our current climate of upheaval and uncertainty, ... , this movement is a truly spiritual experience, a meditation on our existence, a life-affirming reassurance. It begins with an invitation, a welcome, and then we join the musical prayer. But it is not without unease, as Beethoven modulates to an unexpected key and the first violin hesitatingly and tentatively questions. But the composer soothes us with a reprise of the opening prayer, and we find solace in the hope that the good and beauty in humanity will ultimately prevail.”
Stephanie and Saar have recorded this album in memory of their beloved teacher, Leon Fleisher and, as an acknowledgement to the moment, they have dedicated their work to the victims of the Coronavirus pandemic
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation