String Trio in G Major, op. 9 no. 1
Among the nobles who served as Beethoven’s patrons after his arrival in Vienna in 1792 was Count Johann Georg von Browne-Camus. He is said to have squandered his fortune, and ended his days in a public institution. But in the mid-1790s, Beethoven received such generous support from Browne that he dedicated several works to him and his wife, including the three string trios of op. 9. In response, Browne presented Beethoven with a horse, which the preoccupied composer promptly forgot, thereby allowing his servant to rent out the beast and pocket the profits!
Dr. Richard E. Rodda’s excellent description of the String Trio in G Major:
The G major Trio opens with a sonorous unison statement of the tonic arpeggio in slow tempo which is immediately balanced by a soft, feathery, sixteenth-note motive in the violin answered by tiny replies from the viola and cello. […] The main theme comprises four small but distinct gestures: a quiet lyrical phrase; a quick upward-shooting scale; a rising arpeggio; and bold leaping chords. The Adagio is an extended and delicately elaborated song for which the designation “Romanze” might have been more appropriate. The music’s lyricism suggests the influence of opera, a quality which its intensity of expression, often enhanced by a tender, pulsing accompaniment, only strengthens. The following Scherzo is lighter in mood and more deft in scoring than many of Beethoven’s later movements in that form. The sonata-form finale contrasts a heady moto perpetuo main theme with an arching complementary melody in more sedate rhythms. […] The work ends with a fiery coda that exploits the technical resources of the three instruments.
Adelaide, op. 46
Adelaide was written in 1795-1796, when the composer was about 25 years old. The poem by Friedrich von Matthison (1761-1831) clearly struck a chord with Beethoven, whose personal life often centered on his yearnings for idealized and unattainable women. In an essay on this song, Carla Ramsey offers a rather vivid account of the final section: “A culmination of the yearnings expressed in the earlier part of the song, the Allegro molto might be viewed as a kind of triumphal march in which the young lover exults in a death and a transfiguration whereby he is symbolically united with his beloved... The march crescendos and culminates with an impassioned outcry of the beloved’s name. The final eleven measures, marked calando, musically portray a relaxation of the exhausted lover into his lover’s arms with a dying, prayer-like exhalation: ‘Adelaide’.”
Four Ariettas and a Duet, op. 82
In 1809, Beethoven was writing exercises in operatic forms to prepare for his own forays into the realm of opera. Four Ariettas and a Duet, op. 82, sets poems by Pietro Metastasio and deals with aspects of love. The third aria is sung first by the mezzo-soprano – Arietta buffa; then the tenor – Arietta assai seriosa; the listener has the impression that the lovers have arranged a rendezvous but each is waiting in a different place! In the final duet the well-matched singers respond to each other tenderly in the final ‘o dolore’.
Piano Trio No. 3 in c minor, op. 1
According to Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries, “It was planned to introduce the first three Trios of Beethoven published as opus 1, to the artistic world at a soirée at Prince Lichnowsky’s. Most of the artists and music lovers were invited, especially Haydn, for whose opinion all were eager. The Trios were played and at once commanded extraordinary attention. Haydn said many pretty things about them, but advised Beethoven not to publish the third in C minor. This astonished Beethoven, inasmuch as he considered the third the best of the Trios. Consequently, Haydn’s remark left a bad impression on Beethoven and led him to think that Haydn was envious, jealous and ill-disposed toward him. I took occasion to ask Haydn himself about it. His answer, however, confirmed Beethoven’s statement; he said he had not believed that this Trio would be so quickly and easily understood and so favorably received by the public.”
Whereas Haydn’s piano trios are often very genteel affairs, Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor is a big, bold, energetic and upbeat work. The first movement is full of rhythmic propulsion and brio “fire,” with turns of phrase already recognizable as Beethoven. The second movement, a set of lovely variations on a simple but graceful theme, shows Beethoven’s skill at variation, which goes hand in hand with improvisation. The third movement is a sprightly minuet. The finale, marked prestissimo (with the greatest possible speed) allowed Beethoven to display his keyboard virtuosity.Ryan Turner, 2011