Saturday, May 2, 2020

Bravo Cadenza!

Cadenza comes from the Italian word meaning cadence.  It is generally an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played by the soloist in a concerto, usually in a "free" style, allowing for a virtuosic display by the soloist.  

Cadenza refers to that portion of a concerto in which the orchestra [tutti] will stop playing, leaving the soloist to play alone in free time. The soloist decides ahead of time if he will play the cadenza written by the composer of the piece or he can choose one written by another composer for the piece, or even one written by himself/herself.  For example, many Mozart piano concertos have cadenzas written by Beethoven, if the soloist chooses to use those. Cadenzas normally occur near the end of the first movement and sometimes, but not always, also at the end of the third movement.

Beethoven wrote cadenzas for many of Mozart Piano Concertos

The cadenza will contain themes of the movement but in variations and emphasizing the virtuosity of the soloist.

If you are a first time concert goer and the concert has a concerto in it, you might ask how will you know when the cadenza is being played, as many times the pianist will be playing alone for a few measures.  You can tell because it will be near the end [almost always] of the 1st movement and the conductor will drop his hands to his side, and all of the orchestra members will take their instruments out of playing position.

Many times in a concerto the cadenza ends with a long trill by the soloist [piano/violin, etc] as the conductor will then raise his baton and the orchestra members will get in playing position to re-enter the concerto.  After the cadenza, usually comes the finale and climax of the movement.

For an example of that, here is the cadenza and ending only of the first movement, Allegro con brio, of Beethoven's great piano concerto #3 in C-minor. Watch the orchestra take their instruments out of playing position as the soloist displays his virtuosity with the cadenza, and then the orchestra re-enters at the end of the long trill at 3:35 for the climax of the first movement:



Note: In the following examples if you are wondering why there is no applause at the end, it is because these are all the first movements of the concertos, with two more movements to follow before the concerto is over.

Now here is the complete Beethoven piano concerto #3.   The same cadenza you just heard occurs from 12:54-15:57, played by the great virtuoso, Krystian Zimerman. This cadenza was written by Beethoven himself.

Please turn up the volume and enjoy the ultra dramatic first movement of Beethoven's 3rd piano concerto:

Beethoven: piano concerto #3 in c-minor, movement 1, Allegro con brio:




Next we have the first movement of the great Mendelssohn Violin concerto in E minor with soloist virtuoso Julia Fischer playing the cadenza from 7:37 - 9:15 in this first movement.

Felix Mendelssohn: Violin concerto in E minor, movement 1, Allegro molto appasionato:




Now watch the virtuosity displayed by the soloist in the cadenza of the lengthy first movement of the epic dramatic piano concerto in B flat minor by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This main cadenza occurs from 16:06-19:23. Unique in this concerto there is actually 2 cadenzas in the same movement, as there is also a brief cadenza near the start, from about 1:25-2:13.

P.I. Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto #1 in B flat minor, Movement 1, Allegro non troppo - Allegro con spirito:




For one final example, here is the beautiful piano concerto from Robert Schumann, his concerto in A minor. Watch the virtuosity displayed by pianist Daniel Barenboim in the cadenza from 12:26-14:58.

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Movement 1, Allegro affettuoso:





No comments: