BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 5 & Choral Fantasy



Estonian National Symphony Orchestra
Arvo Volmer – Conductor
Estonian Boy’s Choir
Venno Laul – Conductor
Indrek Laul - Pianist

Consonant Works: CW1051

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Concerto No. 5 [38'34]

1 – Allegro-[20'19]
2 – Adagio un poco mosso-[7'32]
3 – Rondo, Allegro-[10'24]

Ludwig van Beethoven
Choral Fantasy [20'00]

1 – Adagio 4-[20'00]

Total Time [58'34]


Ludwig van Beethoven (b. Bonn, Germany December 16, 1770; d. Vienna, Austria March 26, 1827) was a German virtuoso pianist and composer. He produced a vast body of compositions: symphonies, piano and violin concertos, solo works for various instruments, choral works, chamber music and opera. One of the most recognized of all composers, he bridged the gap between the classical and romantic periods.

Beethoven suffered from an inner turmoil…brought on by a growing deafness. In 1800
he wrote:

I may say that I live a wretched existence. For almost two years I have avoided all social gatherings because it is impossible for me to tell the people I am deaf. If my vocation were anything else it might be more endurable, but under the circumstances the condition is terrible….[1]

Despite what should have been a debilitating handicap for a composer, Beethoven regained his strength and continued to compose, producing his most brilliant works in his later years. His magnificent Ninth Symphony for Orchestra and Chorus, which includes in its final movement the moving 'Ode to Joy', today the Anthem of the European Union, was composed during the period 1822-24. When performed in 1824, it was said that he could not hear it.

In his own words:

You will ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot tell you with certainty; they come unsummoned, directly, indirectly,--I could seize them with my hands,--out in the open air; in the woods; while walking; in the silence of the nights; early in the morning; incited by moods, which are translated by the poet into words, by me into tones that sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes."[2].

The Piano Concerto No. 5 was written while Europe was in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, which began in 1792 and was interspersed by brief periods of peace until the final defeat in 1815 of Napoleon by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. Beethoven survived the bombardment and surrender of Vienna in July 1809, the same year the fifth piano concerto was completed. This brilliant work set the standard for the next one hundred years.

The Fantasia for Piano, Orchestra & Chorus, Op. 80, composed in 1808 and known as the Choral Fantasy, is truly unique and powerful. It begins as a piano solo, is joined by the orchestra and near the end by the choir. It bears a haunting resemblance to the final movement of the Ninth Symphony.

Ronald A. Stordahl
Dr. Ronald A. Stordahl
Thief River Falls, Minnesota
November 2006

[1] Beethoven, Ludwig van edited by F Kerst and H Krehbiel. Beethoven, The Man and The Artist, as Revealed in his Own Words. B.W. Huebsch. New York 1905

[2] Ibid.