Ludwig van Beethoven, Romance no 2
Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in F major, Op. 50. Renaud Capuçon, violin. Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Kurt Masur
Perfect listening for Valentine’s Day. 🙂
Not published until 1805 (Bureau des Arts et d’Industrie, Vienna), the Romance in F was probably first performed in November 1798; so, although it bears the designation, “Romance No. 2, ” and a later opus than its G major sibling, it is actually the earlier of the two compositions. The orchestral scoring Beethoven chose for the Romance in F major is the same as that for his early Piano Concerto in B flat, Op. 19 (one flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings). Possibly because of its early conception, the Romance in F is less adventurous in conception than the later Romance in G, Op. 40, and still includes lengthy transitions between sections. However, the Romance in F contains a richer harmonic vocabulary than its later counterpart.
As he would for his Romance in G, Beethoven chose a two-episode rondo format (ABACA coda) for the brief, lyrical Romance in F. The rondo section (A) features an antecedent-consequent theme performed first by the soloist, with orchestral string accompaniment, then by the entire orchestra. The melody itself is highly decorated, with numerous trills, turns and grace notes. A forceful, dotted-rhythm figure that closes each appearance of the rondo acts as a transition to the ensuing episode. Episode B maintains the lyric character of the rondo theme, adding large, dramatic leaps followed by descending scales and arpeggios. A glimpse of F minor precedes a literal return to the rondo, this time performed with a lighter accompaniment. The minor mode at the end of episode B proves to be portentous, as episode C begins in the tonic minor. Beethoven makes full use of the “flat” key area by presenting the rondo theme on D flat major, initiating an extended transition back to F major for the final return of the rondo theme. The coda, while never venturing from the tonic, acts as something of a summation when the soloist borrows the triplet motion prominent in episode C and performs a dramatic, trilled figure from the end of episode B. ~ John Palmer, Rovi