Saturday, October 1, 2016

Once, Twice, Three Times a Concerto

Repeat post from almost two years ago

One of my favorite genres of classical music is the concerto.  A concerto is where you have an orchestra with a soloist in front of the orchestra.  For example, in a piano concerto you will have the orchestra with the pianist in front of the orchestra close to the conductor.  There have been concertos composed for all the instruments in the orchestra [I had to check to see if there has ever been a concerto for double bass and orchestra and there have been].

Piano Concerto a.k.a. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
Although not as prevalent, you do have multiple concertos. double and triple concertos.  A double concerto would have two soloists in front the orchestra.  The soloists can involve two different instruments, like violin and cello, or two of the same instruments, like Mozart's double piano concerto #27.

Brahms Concerto for violin and cello - Ex. of Double Concerto
There are even less triple concertos, so when you find one like Beethoven's great Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra, it is indeed a treat.  To have three great soloists in front of a symphony orchestra in such a beautiful concerto is so wonderful to see and hear. 

The audience gets a special treat from the usual solo concerto where there is interplay between the soloist and orchestra.  In a triple concerto like the great Beethoven's, you not only have interplay between the orchestra and the three soloists, you also have interplay between the three soloists [violin, cello and piano].   So, it is almost like getting to hear a trio along with a concerto in the same piece.

Beethoven's Triple Concerto - For violin, cello, piano and orchestra
Another difference between a single concerto and a multiple concerto, in a usual concerto the soloist will be playing by memory without any sheet music in front of him [almost all the time].   But, and I am not sure if this is just tradition, in a double or triple concerto, the soloists will have the score in front of them just like the rest of the orchestra.  This is not to say the soloists haven't memorized the score just as the soloist in a concerto has.  I am sure they know it backwards and forwards. 

Beethoven's Triple Concerto is scored in the bright key of C Major. In the first movement, allegro, listen to the exciting climax, worthy of a climax in the final movement that would lead to a rousing ovation.  You may wonder then, why doesn't the crowd applaud at the end.  Because that exciting climax is just the end of the first movement and there are two more great movements to come before the piece is over - then applause will then rain down the concert hall. 

The second movement which begins at the 18:58 mark in the following video is a melodic romantic movement, largo.  There is no break between the second and third movement but a bridge that leads to the exciting third movement, rondo alla polacca, that begins at the 24:45 mark of the following video.

Please turn up the volume and listen to this awesome treat by Beethoven of his, not once, not twice, but his three times famous Triple Concerto in C Major. 

L.V. Beethoven: Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major:


susan said...

What a beautiful piece, and what an amazingl audience. It makes you wish you were there. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

Big Mike said...

Thanks Susan!! Then that makes me glad I posted!!!

Joel said...

Agree with Susan! I always learn from your music posts!

Big Mike said...

Thanks Joel! Every blessing!

Connie Bach said...

It is one of my favorites by Beethoven, well, all of his work is my favorite, however, not only this concerto is a huge treat, it is played by the music giants! Gives me the goose bump really! Wow! Thanks for sharing this and wonderful explanation!!!

Big Mike said...

Thanks so much Connie for those comments! :-)