Ludwig van Beethoven

Polonaise for piano in C major, Op. 89

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This piece was dedicated to Empress Alexiewna of Russia, to whom it was presented. Afterward, Beethoven was given fifty ducats, a substantial sum at the time for a single piano composition of modest length. But the gift to the Empress seems also have accounted for the payment made by her husband, Tsar Alexander I, of one-hundred-fifty ducats, more or less owed to Beethoven for 12 years for the three violin sonatas of Op. 30 (Nos. 6, 7 and 8), which were dedicated to the Russian ruler.

    This work begins with a cadenza-like passage, a not-too-distant cousin of the one that opens the "Emperor Concerto" (Piano Concerto No. 5). Could the allusion to that 1809 work be deliberate? It is especially intriguing to conjecture so, since the polonaise was dedicated to an "Empress," and the concerto had probably gotten its famous nickname before 1814. In any event, when the polonaise proper begins, Beethoven proves his deft skills in the realm of this famous Polish dance form. The theme might have fit well in an early Chopin polonaise, but Beethoven's treatment is a bit more energetic and driven than what Chopin would generally produce. The middle section here features some brisk rhythms, and just before the close, a brief snippet from the opening cadenza appears -- here the allusion to the "Emperor Concerto" sounds even more pronounced. The mood of the piece is joyous and elegant throughout, though not as elegant as Chopin's works in the genre. If this piece is not one of the composer's great masterworks, it is nonetheless a rousing effort. The work was first published in Vienna in 1815. A typical performance of it lasts about five to six minutes.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Signum Classics SIGCD 525
    2017 Steinway / Steinway & Sons 30080
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 0028947980
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Avi / CAvi-music AVI 8553321
    2014 BIS BIS 1892
    2014 Decca
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 MSR Classics MS 1446
    2012 Decca
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2009 Decca 4781727
    2009 Decca 4782012
    2009 EMI Classics 13251
    2008 Brilliant 93761
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93183
    2007 Decca 4758449
    2007 Urania 4255
    2006 Decca 4757221
    2006 Decca
    2003 Harmonia Mundi 901801
    2001 Pearl 0126
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 733-2GCB8
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 23254
    1994 Hungaroton 11885
    1992 RCA 61213
    1992 Vox 3017
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67366
    Naxos 553798
    Cascade Records 2210
    Ambitus 97838
    Brilliant Classics 93525/56
    Brilliant Classics 93183/3
    Amado Classics 03039
    Unison 80022