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Cadenza Stupenza

feat. Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart & Ligeti

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The Cadenza: a flourish, improvised if it's being done properly, which is inserted into the final cadence of a vocal aria or instrumental piece.

Or, to put it really in layman's terms, the show-off bit towards the end of an aria or concerto movement where everybody else stops playing and the soloist gets to wow the audience with their virtuosic wizardry. We begin with Haydn's first Cello Concerto, and whilst since the late eighteenth century it's become increasingly normal for the composer or someone else to supply a written out cadenza for their concerto, Haydn writing in the 1760s would have been fully expected his soloist to improvise their own. As a result, this work has come down to us without a first movement cadenza, meaning our soloist on this recording, Rostropovich, plays a subtly modern cadenza written for it in the 1960s by his friend Benjamin Britten.

Next comes a bit of twist on the theme: Bertrand Chamayou as piano soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, because the extended piano solo before everyone else joins in sounds very much like one long cadenza, just at the beginning rather than the end. Cadenzas supplied by famous soloists are celebrated next, with Janine Jansen playing Brahms's Violin Concerto using the widely-used first movement cadenza written by the work's dedicatee, Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim. Then it's back to the days of improvised cadenzas for a soprano aria from Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro, “Deh vieni, non tadar” sung by Patrizia Ciofi.

We close with Ligeti's Violin Concerto of 1992. Like Brahms, Ligeti didn't supply a cadenza of his own, so the one Augustin Hadelich is playing on this recording is the very recent one provided by the British composer Thomas Adès.

Curation & Text: Charlotte Gardner

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

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