Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Souvenir de Beethoven: Flute and Piano Music (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:05:16 minutes | 283 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Da Vinci Classics
Generally speaking, a souvenir is a token of remembrance, a symbol of a past that is meaningful to its creator, dedicatees, addressees, and the whole community for which it is created. A souvenir may quote, recall, evoke, imply, et al., and the realization of these potentialities is always strictly connected with the what, the how, and the why of its existence, structure, and creative/manufacturing process. As such, along the centuries and throughout the cultures of the world, the souvenir has been actualized, experienced, shared, and interpreted as a personal keepsake, a moral memento, a commercial reminder, a socio-political narrative, and so on.
As Susan Stewart has conclusively written in On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (1993), “the souvenir involves the displacement of attention into the past [and] is not simply an object appearing out of context, an object from the past incongruously surviving in the present; rather, its function is to envelop the present within the past. Souvenirs are magical objects because of this transformation. Yet [their] magic […] is a kind of failed magic. Instrumentality replaces essence here as it does in the case of all magical objects, but this instrumentality always works an only partial transformation. The place of origin must remain unavailable in order for desire to be generated”.
A musical souvenir is a specialized token of remembrance. As Alexander Rehding has perceptively suggested in Music and Monumentality. Commemoration and Wonderment in Nineteenth Century Germany (2009), it “is not bound to a particular date [like the anniversary], it is not fixed in time. It follows its own time, which is, in Susan Stewart’s expression, one of interiority: [it is] not only readily available in the privacy of one’s own home whenever desired, but it also offers a foreshortened experience of the musical work it invokes”. In the context of this introductory booklet, Rehding’s considerations deserve special attention and further extended quotation: “Concentrated on a few highlights […], the miniaturized [souvenir] existed on its own level of time, providing what was presented as the quintessence of the score. And indeed, perhaps it is this most maligned genre that actually corresponds most closely to the way memory works, flitting as it often does from one highlight to the next without any apparent logical coherence”.
Rehding’s analysis becomes even more illuminating and far-sighted during these two years of (extended: 2020-2021) celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth (1770-1827): “the commemorative function of the musical souvenir is a very peculiar one: [it] invites the wider world to partake of this commemoration [and], with its extremely wide dissemination, is not so much reminiscent of any particular memory of the performance, but rather it substitutes for the actual experience. It is the souvenir’s invocation of a familiar iconic image […] that allows this shared act of commemoration far beyond any particular place and time. What is more, thanks to the souvenir, the public commemoration can take place in private, in the comfort of one’s own home and at one’s own leisure. Such a souvenir is not characterized by its subtlety. Rather, its success lies in its immediacy. […] It is in this way that the souvenir miniaturizes and domesticates the [musical] monument, and mass-produces it in unlimited quantities; in short, the souvenir commodifies commemoration”.
In line with Stewart’s and Rehding’s approach to the musical souvenir, this CD both conjures up and commemorates Beethoven’s cultural-musicological experience: one may even get to the point of saying with the American Transcendentalist poet Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892) that the Bonn genius’s “mind’s deep history here in tones is wrought” (1887) and rendered through the compositional reception performed by some representative works for flute and piano composed by some of Beethoven’s followers, epigones, and imitators during the nineteenth century.
Its title Souvenir de Beethoven refers to both how Beethoven recalled music composed before him and how posterity recalls his music. Its intention goes well beyond the tradition of old-fashioned publications like the composite musical anthology of printed and manuscript works that Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) and his former pupil Johann Baptist Cramer (1771-1858) published (twice) in London under the apparently cognate heading of Apollo’s Gift, or, The Musical Souvenir for the year 1830 and 1831. Rather, what this CD may share with that early nineteenth-century “precursor” is inscribed in the favourable judgement of Clementi and Cramer’s documentary accounts of those musical years that was expressed by the English musicologist Edward Holmes (1797-1859) in 1829: “We recommend [them] to the patronage of the tasteful on more grounds than any publication of its class, where the object is merely to show the novelty of the passing hour”.
Beethoven’s Sonate für Flöte und Klavier in B-flat major, Ahnang 4, was found among his papers after his death, should date back to 1791, and had to wait until 1906 to be published. It is still a cultural-musicological enigma: Barry Cooper labels it as “perhaps spurious”; Alexander Thayer questions its authorship because the handwriting of its manuscript is different from Beethoven’s; Willy Hess considers it authentic because of its presence among Beethoven’s personal papers. What we may be sure of, instead, is that this Sonata is itself a musical souvenir of the compositional culture of the second half of the eighteenth century: the sonata-form of its first movement shows an emblematic disproportion between the two main thematic groups, the first of which spreads extensively along the score and recurs intensively to diminutions and variations (almost) with the compositional garb of an eighteenth-century monothematic ancestor; the three following movements confirm this compositional cohesion and coherence around a dominant thematic and motivic repertoire, whose pervasiveness does not leave much room for recognizably dialogical alternatives, as they were conceived and practised in the music of the early nineteenth century.
The “arrangement” by Theobald Böhm (1794-1881) (thus, simplistically, defined by the Theobald-Böhm [online] Archive1) for flute and piano of Beethoven’s Serenade n. 2 op. 8 in D for string trio (composed in 1796-1797 and published in 1797) is a musical souvenir of a very intriguing kind, which would deserve more cultural-musicological attention than it has to date been afforded. Suffice to say here that Beethoven’s integrated souvenir of Mozart’s serenades (themselves mindful of the of the Baroque suite) combined with ingenious insertions of cyclical and motivic-thematic elaborations (characteristic of sonata-form, as noticed by Bodo Bischoff) is not only “arranged”, but (more correctly) “transfigured” in Böhm’s compositional culture of the late 1870s (1876): his souvenir de Beethoven reduces Beethoven’s movements from six to five, separates and autonomizes the Allegro and Adagio of the initial Marcia, cancels both the enigmatic Adagio-Scherzo roundeau-like third movement and the final repetition of the Marcia’s Allegro that concludes the original opus 8. In sum, as is easily predictable but only seldom adequately experienced in musical fruition, Böhm’s specialized token of remembrance obeys a different compositional culture from Beethoven’s, which should not be dismissed as mere “arrangement”, but, on the contrary, should be approached thanks to the hermenutical tools of cultural musicology.
The same (cultural-musicologically) cautious approach should be adopted to Gariboldi’s and Doppler’s musical souvenirs of the second movement (Andante con variazioni) of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata (n. 9, op. 47 in A major; 1803), both published before Tolstoy’s celebrated literary transcodification in his homonymous novella (1889). Their Beethovenian world-models seem complementary, but are, in fact, irreconcilable. On the one hand, Giuseppe Gariboldi (1833-1905) chooses to compositionally summarize some tonally static eighteenth-century foundations of Beethoven’s logic of musical variation in his – succinct though virtuosic – Thème de Beethoven avec [deux] variations pour flûte et piano. Andante in F major (1864). On the other hand, less than twenty years later, the very title of the Fantaisie sur un motif de Beethoven op. 43 pour la Flûte avec accompagnement de Piano or Orchestra, composed by Albert Franz Doppler (1821-1883) in 1882, shows more Romantic-oriented creative and cultural intentions: his compositional reception of what the score published by Gérard Billaudot Éditeur in 2002 names “Rubato [sic] de la Sonate ‘Kreutzer’ pour piano et violon op. 17 [sic]” is fantastically dynamic and dialectic in its tonal organization and in its elaboration of Beethoven’s melodic paradigms.
Gariboldi’s and Doppler’s musical souvenirs de Beethoven confirm what Nancy November has written on another “anonymous arrangement” of op. 47, “first published by Simrock in 1832”, in Beethoven’s Symphonies Arranged for the Chamber. Sociability, Reception, and Canon Formation (2021): in fact, they both provide another “striking example of how arrangements from chamber music to chamber music can change meaning: in [these works], a virtuoso solo violin accompanied by, and to some extent pitted against, an equally virtuoso solo piano is transformed into a varied conversational landscape, which is still technically very challenging”. The same holds true for – last but not least – Raffaello Galli (1824-1889) and his Souvenir de Beethoven op. 340 (published by Francesco Lucca in Milan after 1880), which is the Morceau de Salon n. 2 of a collection emblematically titled Souvenirs des grands Maîtres: the cultural-musicological considerations sketched so far may be applied to the nth degree in the musical fruition of Galli’s Beethovenian Fragments de compositions and of its mosaic-like commodification of Beethoven’s commemoration.
01. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Flute Sonata in B-Flat major, Anh. 4: Allegro. Moderato (07:01)
02. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Flute Sonata in B-Flat major, Anh. 4: Polacca (polonaise) (04:12)
03. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Flute Sonata in B-Flat major, Anh. 4: Largo (06:24)
04. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Flute Sonata in B-Flat major, Anh. 4: Thema mit variationen: Allegretto (06:11)
05. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Serenade in D Major, Op.8: Marcia. Allegro; Adagio (Arr. Theobald Böhm) (02:24)
06. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Serenade in D Major, Op.8: Minuet. Allegretto (Arr. Theobald Böhm) (05:51)
07. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Serenade in D Major, Op.8: Adagio (Arr. Theobald Böhm) (02:01)
08. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Serenade in D Major, Op.8: Allegretto alla polacca (Arr. Theobald Böhm) (02:12)
09. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Beethoven: Serenade in D Major, Op.8: Tema con variazioni. Andante quasi allegretto (Arr. Theobald Böhm) (04:38)
10. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Gariboldi: Theme de Beethoven avec variations (06:36)
11. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Galli: Souvenir de Beethoven (Fragments de Compositions), op. 340 (09:09)
12. Raffaele Trevisani, Paola Girardi – Doppler: Fantasie sur un motif de Beethoven, op.43 (08:33)