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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000095.txt from 1999/01

Subj: [kl] Beethoven Trio, 3d Movement Theme
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 07:28:06 -0500

David Highsmith asks:

>The third movement of the Beethoven Trio Op.11 is a Theme and Variations=
>Edition Peters score simply says: "Tema: Pria ch'io L'impegno" . Where i=
>theme from? Who composed it? This will save me a trip to the local

The theme is from an aria in the comic opera "L'amor marinaro" or "The
Corsair" by Joseph Weigl. The text means "Before I begin work," which is=

incomplete -- It's actually "Before I begin work, I must have something t=

According to Weigl's bio in Baker's, the opera premiered on October 15,
1797. I have read (I don't remember where - on a record jacket, I think)=

that the opera was enormously successful and that this tune was whistled
all over Vienna. Thus, everyone who heard the Beethoven trio would get t=
joke. My forgotten source went on to say that when the tune faded from
popularity, Beethoven's papers showed he intended to write another finale=
but never got around to it.

When you play the variations, remember that they're done on a comic tune
and are meant to be funny. Beethoven really rings the changes - angry,
heroic, sweet, impossibly sad (in the minor variation, you can hear the
tears running down the cheek) and finally a learned fugue. In the fugue,=

he carries it to extremes at the end, with the 3 solo descending notes,
followed by the same 3 pizzicato on the cello, and then staccato on the
piano, which is then overwhelmed by the final rush to the end.

When I played this on a reproduction of an old clarinet, with fortepiano
and a gut-string cello with no end pin, I realized what was going on. Th=
lighter voiced clarinet can play those 3 notes like pizzicatos, and the
fortepiano can do the same. We prepared the audience by playing the mino=
key variation in almost silent movie style and got audible laughs with th=
fugue, pizzicatos and coda.

Have fun performing it.

Ken Shaw

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