Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 37 (arranged for piano and string orchestra / new edition)
Beethoven, Ludwig van / arr. Lachner, Vinzenz
Ludwig van Beethoven
(baptized Bonn, 17 December 1770 – d. Vienna, 26 March 1827)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, op. 37
arranged for piano and string orchestra in 1881 by
(b. Rain am Lech, 19 July 1811 – d. Karlsruhe, 22 January 1893)
I Allegro con brio (p. 1)
II Largo (p. 38)
III Rondo. Allegro (p. 51) – Presto (p. 79)
In 1804, Ludwig van Beethoven dedicated his Third Piano Concerto to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772-1806), whom he greatly esteemed as a composer, and of whom he said that he played the piano “not at all in a royal or princely manner but like a proper pianist.” The initial sketches date from June 1796, and a first version existed no later than April 1800, with further revisions in 1802 and April 1803. The first performance took place in Vienna on 5 April 1803 during Beethoven’s academy at the Theater an der Wien. Beethoven himself took the solo part and also conducted the premières of his Symphony No. 2 in D major (op. 36) and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives (op. 85). At the time of the première he had not yet written out the solo part; it was only in July 1804 that he completed it for a performance by his pupil Ferdinand Ries (1784-1838). The original print was published that same year by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir, Vienna.
Vinzenz Lachner’s arrangement for piano and string quartet plus double bass (or string orchestra) was issued in print by J. G. Cotta of Stuttgart in 1881 in a reduction for two pianos by the editor Sigmund Lebert (1821-1884) and separate parts for the strings. A copy of the complete set of parts is preserved in the archive of the Beethoven House in Bonn. Until now a full score of Lachner’s string arrangement has never been published. This has proved to be a serious drawback, for this version is increasingly being performed today, thereby allowing audiences to hear a major Beethoven concerto accompanied solely by strings. Conductors have previously availed themselves of the full score of Beethoven’s original version with winds – a makeshift solution that our volume, a premier publication prepared by Lucian Beschiu on the basis of the full score, has now remedied.
The four Lachner brothers were born to Anton Lachner, a clockmaker and organist from Rain am Lech. All four became composers. The most famous of them is Franz Lachner (1803-1890), whose oeuvre embraces every genre and includes eight symphonies, eight orchestral suites (some of which were once very popular), a great deal of chamber music, and many piano pieces. Ignaz Lachner (1807-1895) is far less well-known, although his string quartets are still occasionally played today, and the elder half-brother Theodor Lachner (1795-1877) is wholly forgotten. This is not the case with Vinzenz Lachner, whose music, though overshadowed by that of his brother Franz, received due recognition and was warmly appreciated by Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Beginning in 1822 he was a pupil at Augsburg Grammar School, where for unknown reasons he failed to graduate. In 1830 his brother Franz arranged for him to become a music teacher to Count Mycielski zu Cosvitz in Posen (Poznań). In 1834 he succeeded his brother Ignaz as organist at Vienna’s Reformed Church and vocal coach at the Kärntnertor Theater. When Franz Lachner left his conducting position at the Mannheim National Theater in 1836, Vinzenz took charge of this office and retained it, with a few interruptions, until his early retirement in 1873. In between he served as conductor of the German Opera Company in London (1842) and as music director in Frankfurt am Main (1848). Beginning in 1873 he was based in Karlsruhe, first as a private teacher and later at the Grand Ducal Conservatory. Among his pupils in Mannheim was the famous Wagner conductor Hermann Levi (1839-1900); his Karlsruhe pupils included the virtuoso pianist Max von Pauer (1866-1945). Like his brother Franz, Vinzenz was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative composer who roundly rejected the innovations of the New German School proceeding from Liszt. He mainly wrote vocal works, including many songs, and enjoyed an outstanding reputation as a conductor. Among his instrumental works we find two symphonies, several overtures, incidental music for Schiller’s Turandot, piano pieces, and chamber music in various formats, including the once popular Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 10.
Lachner’s string version of Beethoven’s op. 37 is a solid and technically adroit achievement that elegantly manages to weave the original wind parts into the string texture. Conductors and chamber musicians are strongly urged to study the original thoroughly beforehand in order to gain a proper grasp of the necessary dynamic contrasts and the orchestral colors intended by the composer. Lachner advises pianists to play the solo cadenzas by Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), a virtuoso pianist world-famous in his day and a remarkable composer esteemed by Mendelssohn. This recommendation, consistent with Lachner’s own stylistic stance as a composer, is an acceptable alternative even today, although we of course strongly recommend using Beethoven’s original cadenza for the opening movement or, given the necessary urge, knowledge, and rare talent, to improvise cadenzas on the spot, as was customary in Beethoven’s day. Ultimately the decision between Beethoven vs. Moscheles simply depends on whether the work is to be played unimpeachably in Beethoven’s original style or in the domesticated taste of the outdated romantic era.
For our premier publication we have omitted the articulation marks found in the printed parts of Lachner’s arrangement and altered them to agree with the markings in Norman Del Mar’s current urtext edition, published by Bärenreiter.
Translation: J. Bradford Robinson, 2017
For performance material please contact Musikproduktion Höflich (www.musikmph.de), Munic
210 x 297 mm