Время создания: после WoO 87 в том же году (1790)
Автор текста: Severin Anton Averdonk
Christine Schafer, сопрано,
Clemens Bieber, тенор,
Victor von Halem, бас
Chor und Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, дир. Christian Thielemann
Joseph II, Emperor of both the Austrian and Holy Roman Empires, died on 20 February 1790. His successor, Leopold II, was elected on 30 September 1790 and crowned on 9 October. Celebrations took place not only in Vienna, but also at the Electoral Court in Bonn, for which Beethoven was commissioned to write a cantata. As was the case with his Cantata on the Death of Joseph II (WoO 87), the "Leopold" cantata was written to a text by Severin Anton Averdonk (whose sister, Johanna Helene, was a singer at court and had studied with Beethoven's father) and, unfortunately, was never performed. Beethoven's efforts, however, would not go unrewarded. Haydn passed through Bonn in both 1790 and 1792 -- on his way to and from England -- and on one of these occasions he examined some of Beethoven's music (most likely either the work at hand or the Joseph II cantata). Seeing the quality of Beethoven's work, Haydn decided to accept Beethoven as a pupil, prompting Beethoven's move to Vienna in November 1792.
The Leopold cantata opens where the Joseph cantata ends -- with the death of Emperor Joseph II. A sustained low string opening gives way to the solo soprano's "Hier schlummert..." ("Here sleeps..."), which is answered by the chorus. The soprano then embarks on an extended arioso that announces the Teutons' despair at the death of Joseph. This despair is answered by the "iron mouths" on Olympus, and Emperor Leopold appears. The ensuing soprano aria, reporting Germany's tears of joy at the accession of Leopold, features a lengthy introduction with an obbligato cello and an orchestra divided clearly into string and woodwind choirs. The following recititative for bass is uncharacteristically scored for continuo, perhaps a nod to the sacred cantatas of Bach. The text relates the coming of Leopold and the world's amazement at Germany's blessing. Baroque stylistic elements also pervade the following trio for tenor, bass and soprano -- especially canonic writing and the use of text repetition in sequence. The finale is big and boisterous, and the writing alternates between homophonic and polyphonic.
Because the occasion commemorated by the "Leopold" cantata was of a very different nature than that marked by the "Joseph" cantata, the Leopold cantata strives for a more brilliant, celebratory effect, in part achieved through the use of trumpets and drums. Of the two Bonn cantatas, that for the death of Joseph II is generally regarded as the more successful. In it, Beethoven establishes his vocabulary for the representation of death, grief and defiance -- a vocabulary he would develop and improve upon throughout his career. The Leopold cantata, on the other hand, is concerned with triumph and joy, the musical representation of which Beethoven found more elusive. However, the final chorus of the cantata, opening with "Heil!, Stürzet nieder, Millionen!" ("Hail! Throw yourselves down, ye millions!"), crudely anticipates a section in the finale of the Ninth Symphony which treats a similar text.
(John Palmer, Rovi)