Key Ensemble / Leif Segerstam

Beethoven: König Stephan; Leonor Prohaska (Excerpts); Opferlied; Germania

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Perhaps no aspect of Beethoven's output is as little played as his music for the theater, and that for the play König Stephan, Op. 117, a praisefest for the emperor written to celebrate the opening of a theater in Pest (part of modern-day Budapest), may be the least familiar of all. Incidental music is the ancestor of modern film music, and Beethoven's contribution consists partly of short passages accompanying action or dialogue (the latter are called "melodrama") with little individuality. Yet in the squarish melodies of the instrumental and choral sections, one can hear kernels of larger late Beethoven works. This is even more true of some of the short choral pieces with which conductor Leif Segerstam fills out the program. If there are neglected masterpieces here, they are the two settings of the poem Opferlied, Op. 121b, little choral prayers that have a good deal of the late Beethoven transcendent quality. Segerstam gets this, in performances from the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra and a pair of choral groups that make up for in warmth what they may lack in sheen. There are also a few pieces at the Wellington's Victory level, but overall, the music tends to stick in one's head, and this is to Segerstam's credit. A worthwhile entry in a good Beethoven library, and an unusual look into the mystery that is late Beethoven.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
König Stephan, Op. 117 (King Stephen)
1 07:04 Amazon
2 02:36 Amazon
3 01:52 Amazon
4 01:07 Amazon
5 00:48 Amazon
6 03:26 Amazon
7 03:00 Amazon
8 02:42 Amazon
9 00:53 Amazon
10 00:42 Amazon
11 00:22 Amazon
12 01:48 Amazon
13 00:39 Amazon
14 00:27 Amazon
15 00:28 Amazon
16 02:39 Amazon
17 00:22 Amazon
18 00:23 Amazon
19 00:16 Amazon
20 01:18 Amazon
21 02:21 Amazon
22 01:36 Amazon
23 02:16 Amazon
Leonore Prohaska, WoO 96
24 02:28 Amazon
25 03:05 Amazon
26 05:45 Amazon
27 04:39 Amazon
28 07:21 Amazon
29 01:54 Amazon
30 05:06 Amazon
31 04:21 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick