Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Quintet in E flat for piano and wind instruments, opus 16 (1796)

I - Grave - Allegro ma non troppo; II - Andante cantabile; III - Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo

When writing this work, Beethoven clearly had Mozart's earlier quintet in mind when composing the quintet for piano and wind: many parallels can be drawn in the instrumentation, tonality, and structure. However, these similarities are flavoured with Beethoven's unique compositional style. The composer later arranged this work for piano and strings.

The part writing in the slow introduction is akin to Mozart but as the first movement gets under way, the prominence Beethoven gives to the piano becomes apparent. The first movement is in triple meter, which is unusual for Beethoven's early period, and demonstrates many features of Beethoven's pianistic style: large spacing between the two hands, the heavy use of octaves and tremelandos, and the fast arpeggio figures. The slow movement is typical of this period beginning with a simple melody over an Alberti bass. This theme is alternated between the wind and piano in a series of 'episodes' with the theme becoming more heavily ornamented each time it returns in the piano. The lively finale is in sonata-rondo form, a structure which Beethoven used prolifically in this period. This movement has a continuous rhythmic drive accentuated by the contrasting dynamics. It ends with a long twelve bar piano trill (similar to the first movement) accompanying a wind theme followed by a dramatic flourish to round off this exciting work. DPS

© 1998 The Arethusa Ensemble