Musicologists maintain that, in the history of classical music, the symphony and the sonata are the more ambitious form of composition. In effect, the concerto for one or more instruments and orchestra is inevitably more theatrical, often promoting, rather than music per se, vacuous virtuosity. But Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto for piano and orchestra elevates the generally facile juxtaposition between soloist and orchestra to an accomplished integration of Animus and Anima, sun and moon, the two opposing elements of the universe in a triumphantly réussi instance of coniunctio oppositorum.
The following — whose style is intended as a tribute to Hector Berlioz’s A Critical Study of Beethoven’s Symphonies — should encourage the reader to go back to the source, i.e., the concerto itself, whether it be the first time you listen to it, or the umpteenth.
Beethoven’s Klavierkonzert No. 5 [Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major Op. 73 (“Emperor”)] is the prototype of concerting perfection.… Read the rest