Piano concerto No. 3 in A major ~ II Andante

Hérold Ferdinand |

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4m 55s
Title on Youtube:
Hidden treasures ~ Ferdinand Hérold ~ Piano Concerto No. 3 in A major (1813) ~ ii. Andante
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≈ History ≈ {adapted from the Grove Dictionary & Booklet from the Presented Recording} Though the name of French composer Ferdinand Herold (1791-1833) would become particularly associated with opera comique {Marie (1826), Zampa (1831) and Le pré aux clercs (1832)} and early Romantic ballet {La somnambule (1827) and La fille mal gardée (1828)}, he actually began, as many before and after his time, as a pianist. His father, a much sought after instructor, taught his son to play the piano at a very young age, and by 1806 Herold entered the Paris Conservatoire where he studied piano with Louis Adam, winning the premier prix de piano in 1810 and publically performing one of his four piano concertos on April 6, 1812, at the Théâtre Italien. Herold won the Prix de Rome in the same year and began his stay in Italy where he composed his final works for piano, including the Concerto No. 3 in A minor, before finally forgoing his other pursuits for opera with the 1814-15 commission of La gioventù di Enrico quinto for the Teatro del Fondo. ≈ Music ≈ The first notion that Herold's piano concertos are in essence juvenile works from a composer of basically light-weight works is somewhat countered by their unassuming charm and enchanting freshness. One would have to go to great lengths to present these works as innovative masterpieces but they prefigure both Chopin and Mendelssohn in their appealing lyricism and recall a number of contemporary composers. Indeed, the presented excerpt - a gentle Andante romanza from Concerto No. 3 - is uncannily similar in its basic character and execution to a number of works, in particularly, the previously posted excerpt from Onslow's 1819 Violin Sonata {}. Still, it is an enchanting essay in Italianate lyricism, hence my ultimate decision to upload it. The Romanza develops from a slightly elaborated ABA form and is preceded by a brief prelude for solo piano. From there on, one is immediately struck by the fact that the piece - a section of a full piano concerto with orchestra - is set in the manner of a chamber sonata for the piano and solo violin {I am yet to encounter a similarly conceived section in any Romantic piano concerto}. What's more, the piano states all the secondary material in the movement, while the violin actually enjoys a comparably prominent role. Most notably, the delicate main theme foreshadowing in its suspended cantabile the basic features of a Bellinian cavatina or a Chopinesque nocturne is exclusively presented by the violin supported by simple ostinato figures in the piano {0:35}. The melody is immediately repeated by the violin in a higher variant, while the bass line is given greater weight in a freely flowing elaboration {1:04}. The B section of the Romanza inverts this unusual juxtaposition, as the piano presents a graceful extended cavatina with all the traditional ornamental flourishes {1:44} over the drone of the violin {1:56}, as we find ourselves on m