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Michael Endres Carl Maria von Weber: Piano Works OC 357 2 CD
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Format2 Audio CD
Ordering NumberOC 357
Release date15/10/2004
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Weber, Carl Maria von

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      Piano Sonatas Nos. 1–4 · Seven Variations Op. 9 · Grande Polonaise Seven Variations on the Aria “Vien’que dorina bella” Op. 7 Aufforderung zum Tanz Op. 65 · “Max” Waltz
      Michael Endres, piano

      Michael Endres has been awarded the “Choc de Musique” and the “Diapason d’Or” for his celebrated recordings of works by Franz Schubert and W.A. Mozart (OehmsClassics 253). Now he presents his new recording: piano works by Carl Maria von Weber.

      The piano works of Carl Maria von Weber

      200 years after their creation Carl Maria von Weber’s highly virtuosic and dramatic piano works are still in the shadow of his operas, despite these four piano sonatas are among his longest works.

      Weber’s own original musical language is based on his early colourful romanticism in combination with an effective dramatic sense.This can be seen in his 1st Sonata Opus 24, composed in 1814, which is one of his most audacious and original compositions.

      The four movements are – similar to Chopin’s Sonata in b-flat minor Opus 35 – a group of four heterogenous dramatic situations, which hardly justify the term ‘sonata’.

      The first movement can be seen as a model for Weber’s unorthodox pianistic writing and the constant change of scenery:

      By using a highly virtuosic style including using the complete range of the keyboard, Weber creates a dramatic atmosphere which nearly overextends the possibilities of the instrument, as orchestral colours are missing. The dramatic situations change apruptly rather than develop in a homogenous way.

      In the slow movement finally a perfect belcanto style is achieved.The aria style opening and the orchestral culmination are in harmony with each other.

      The Scherzo surprises by being in e-minor (after the F-major of the previous slow movement) and also contains a Trio which uses specific orchestral effects.

      The fourth movement is of a special kind: for many years it belonged to the standard repertoire of the vituoso pianists of the early 20th century (being called “Perpetuum Mobile”), and it is a restless, uninterruptedly stormy piece, which was not designed as an etude, but contatins lots of charme and esprit.

      After this experiment the Sonata in A-flat major, opus 39, composed between 1814 - 1816 is a much more homogenous and romantically charged work.

      Far from the rebellious elan of the first sonata one finds organic structure and atmospheric images, despite some agitated explosions in the middle section. The slow movement is structured in a more classical way, as the dramatic balance between its sections is more coherent and Weber doesn’t use dramatic extremes here. Despite that the writing is again orchestral. The Scherzo, an exalted virtuoso piece, uses dark registers and an operatic melodic line in the trio, without losing its dramatic impetus.

      The final movement asks to be played “molto grazioso”. But it is not so much the melodic quality but the eloquent musical conversation which defines it. It characteristically finishes in a pp fade-out.

      These two contrasting designs of the first two sonatas were to be combined in the grandiose three-movement d-minor Sonata Opus 49, which was composed 1816 in Berlin.

      Here Weber achieves a synthesis of classical form and early romantic daemonic qualities.

      The two themes in the first movement are clearly set apart in the traditional classical sense.

      The slow movement is a set of variations, a musical form Weber was very fond of: he composed ten sets of variations. It is remarkable how skillfully Weber manages to use the different registers of the piano and how he interrupts, twice, the variations: with a sombre tremolando and a heroic fortissimo section. In the last movement Weber demands the utmost virtuosity- making almost unplayable demands – but also one can observe an effective structure by the introduction of a serenadestyle second theme.

      While the d-minor Sonata had already distanced itself from the First Sonata with its highly charged fantasy, the following late Fourth Sonata in e-minor Opus 70, composed in 1822, was a further step towards concentration of form and content in combination with a melancholic undercurrent. Both main and second themes are of lyrical character, only the development allows for an explosive section, which stands in sharp contrast to the general mood.

      Surprisingly the second movement is an extroverted Scherzo. This order makes sense to constitute a dramatic contrast to the melancholy of the first movement. Despite writing in a brilliant style here Weber demands in the restless middle section “murmurando”, which generates a strange diffuse effect.

      The slow movement is true Weber: a simple folk style tune, which is set in a more restrained way than its predecessors. The final prestissimo is an inspired and witty dance, which makes one forget the more elegiac mood of the first movement.

      The two sets of variations presented here show the theme in different dramatic shades rather than contrapunctual or polyphonic writing. In the Variations Opus 9, composed in 1808. Weber closes the cycle with an extended belcanto (‘singing’) variation, which is much longer than the other variations.

      The importance of belcanto is shown even more in the 7 Variations “Vien qua, Dorina bella”, composed in 1807. Here Weber notated the theme as a song, by separating the top line from the accompaniment. It is reported that he sang in performances that very theme with a “voice capable of finest shadings” (Jähns). The special charme of this piece, the mysterious twilight of the first variation and the enormous variety of the final variation (an extended polacca) makes this one of Webers early masterpieces.

      In 1808 Weber composed the Grande Polonaise in E-flat major, which shows his inclination towards the splendoured and effective dance style. A highly charged demonic introduction creates a suitable contrast.

      The famous “Aufforderung zum Tanz” Opus 65, composed in 1819, shows more the poetical idea behind a valse than the actual dance. Weber wrote down a program for this piece: from the first invitation to the slight refusal of the dancer, then acceptance, dance and finally a gracious farewell at the end. The Waltzes included on this disc are a suitable addition to the charming quality of this concert waltz, the only piano piece which ever achieved a similar status among audiences as Weber’s famous opera Der Freischütz .

      The four grand sonatas though are in oblivion, and it can only be hoped that these wonderfully audacious and pianistically challenging works of the founder of romantic opera will one day see a renaissance. They deserve a place next to Schubert’s completely different sonatas.

      Michael Endres

      Tracklist hide

      hide CD 1
      • Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)
        Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major op. 24
        • 1.Allegro08:31
        • 2.Adagio06:24
        • 3.Menuetto Allegretto06:18
        • 4.Rondo Presto04:07
      • Piano Sonata No. 2 in A-flat major op. 39
        • 5.Allegro moderato, con spirito ed assai legato09:46
        • 6.Andante Ben tenuto06:35
        • 7.Menuetto capriccioso. Presto assai04:08
        • 8.Rondo Moderato e molto grazioso05:37
      • Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor op. 49
        • 9.Allegro feroce10:51
        • 10.Andante con moto07:45
        • 11.Rondo Presto06:10
      • Total:01:16:12
      more CD 2
      • Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor op. 70
        • 1.Moderato10:00
        • 2.Menuetto Presto vivace ed energico03:57
        • 3.Andante quasi allegretto, consolente06:42
        • 4.Finale. Prestissimo03:58
      • Seven Variations in F major op. 9
        • 5.Andante00:58
        • 6.Var I00:58
        • 7.Var II01:08
        • 8.Var III00:41
        • 9.Var IV01:01
        • 10.Var V01:10
        • 11.Var VI02:45
        • 12.Var VII02:54
      • Seven Variations on the Aria “Vien’qua dorina bella” op. 7
        • 13.Andante01:34
        • 14.Var I01:17
        • 15.Var II01:06
        • 16.Var III00:56
        • 17.Var IV01:24
        • 18.Var V01:19
        • 19.Var VI01:53
        • 20.Var VII03:11
      • 21.Grande Polonaise07:09
      • 22.Aufforderung zum Tanz op. 6508:39
      • Six “Favorit” Waltzes
        • 23.Waltz 101:10
        • 24.Waltz 201:31
        • 25.Waltz 301:15
        • 26.Waltz 402:03
        • 27.Waltz 501:18
        • 28.Waltz 601:09
      • 29.“Max” Walzer00:50
      • Total:01:13:56