Фантазия для фортепиано g-moll, Opus 77

Время создания: октябрь 1809 года
Посвящено: граф Franz von Brunsvik de Korompa

Allegro - Poco adagio - Allegro ma non troppo - Allegro con brio - Adagio - Presto - Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio

Gianluca Cascioli, фортепиано

Completed in October, 1809, the Fantasia for Piano in G minor, Op. 77, was commissioned by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), whose London publishing firm printed the work in 1810. The piece is dedicated to Count Franz Brunsvik (1777-1849), a capable cellist. Beethoven, always trying to maximize his income, also sold the publication rights to the Fantasy to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig, whose edition appeared in November, 1810, only two months after Clementi's in England. That Beethoven composed this flight of fancy when he did is somewhat ironic, for he was attempting, for the first time in his life, to settle down, live without hotels and restaurants and to establish a real "home" where he would sleep and eat his meals.

Carl Czerny (1791-1857), a composer who studied piano with Beethoven in 1801-3, described the Fantasy, Op. 77 as variations "in a mixed form, one idea following another as in a potpourri, ... " Possibly no other work reflects Beethoven's tendency toward improvisation. Czerny's assessment is apt. The Fantasy passes through eight key areas, three changes of meter and numerous changes in tempo. What is most curious is that the piece, mostly a string of seemingly unrelated vignettes, closes with a self-contained section a half step higher than the fundamental key at the opening of the piece. One senses an anticipation of relaxed Romantic-era fluidity and freedom.

Rapid descending scales and drastic tempo changes mark the introduction, which hovers around the keys of G minor and A flat major before committing to the dominant of B flat major, the key of the ensuing section. Marked Allegro and in 6/8 meter, the new segment is the first to have a real theme, but it quickly dissolves and modulates to D minor for the first of what seems as much a finger exercise as new theme, this time stressing arpeggios. D minor continues through the next idea, in 2/4 and featuring a theme outlined by broken octaves alternating between the hands--one of a pianist's nightmares. This section ends abruptly and, with one chord, moves to A flat major for the next idea, marked Adagio and with a repeated-note theme over changing harmonies. A loud, Presto bridge introduces new material in D major, propelled along by the 6/8 meter. This section consist of two ideas, the first a theme played in block chords in the right hand, the second consisting of running eighth notes in both hands, the theme from the first part played by the little fingers of each hand. Suddenly, the Adagio repeated-note theme returns, but on the dominant of B major, preparing the arrival of the self-contained, variation-like section that will close the piece.

The new Allegretto theme resembles the repeated-note Adagio theme, but is more active. It is followed immediately by a frantic idea broken between the hands but eventually smoothes out into another exercise-like figure. Broken octaves return in this quasi-developmental passage, in the middle of which the Allegretto theme appears deep in the bass then in repeated chords in the right hand over a leaping, diving bass line. After a few rapid flourishes, the Allegretto theme sounds in its original form, but in C major, a key that lasts only a few measures before B major takes over and the piece closes.

(John Palmer, Rovi)

Contemporaneous with the Sixth Symphony and the Piano Concerto No. 5, this work is one of Beethoven's rare forays into a form distinguished mainly by a loose, improvisational structure. Even working within this formal freedom, however, Beethoven invested the Fantasia with the elements of drama and struggle that so readily characterize his symphonies, sonatas, and similar works. The Fantasia begins with two descending scalar passages often thought of as posing a question or suggesting doubt or indecision. These are immediately followed by a somewhat melancholy adagio passage that seems to start in the middle of a phrase, as if confused or uncertain. The scales are heard again, as is the Adagio music. Beethoven inserts a pause after each one of these exchanges, as if to suggest doubt, or to present each as a separate episode. There follows a happy, lively passage which interleaves with the descending scales, pauses included between them again. Finally, these hesitant exchanges cease with the appearance of a jovial theme. Eventually it turns nervous and tentative, then falls apart, yielding to an ascending run. A new theme, marked Allegro, is presented and appears determined at the outset to outlive its thematic predecessors. It, too, dies away, however, and the seemingly ubiquitous scales return to reintroduce a sense of menace. The direction of the piece now seems in a state of flux, with one new idea struggling to take shape but finding the endeavor difficult. Finally, a thematic life is born, but by way of evolution rather than via a sudden seizing of power, as previous themes had tried. This Presto subject grows and casts sunlight over the remainder of the piece, even weathering a return of the scales. All the themes are actually related here, as it turns out, though it will appear difficult at the outset, and even midway though the piece, to hear it as a theme-and-variations scheme. This work, which concludes triumphantly, remains one of the most interesting compositions of its kind: clearly there is a story of struggle here, which, through persistence and faith, ends in triumph. Beethoven dedicated this work to Count Franz von Brunsvik. It was first published in Leipzig and London in 1810.

(All Music Guide)