Two of Ignaz von Beecke’s (1733-1803) surviving 15 piano concertos shine here. Beecke ha reknown chiefly for his harpsichord skill, but composed a wide range of music. In 1775, he and the 19-year-old Mozart engaged in a piano playing competition. The poet and composer Schubart, wrote: “In Munich last winter I heard two of the greatest clavier players, Mr. Mozart and Captain von Beecke. Mozart’s playing had great weight, and he read at sight everything that we put before him. But no more than that; Beecke surpasses him by a long way. . .having demonstrated winged agility, grace and melting sweetness.” Beecke’s concerto in F Major (c. 1785) revels in sonority from the full ensemble. The opening Allegro proffers a long instrumental recitative; the keyboard, from its entry, sports a continuous chain of ornamentation and cascading roulades. The melodic content is pleasantly restrained, in a style crossing the Bach sons with anticipations of early, minor-key Romanticism.
The charming 2nd mvmt assigns the flute and oboe solo passages in concert with the keyboard. The cadenza features staccato patterns and glowing quick runs and roulades. In the Rondo, two of the solo’s five distinct episodes modulate into the minor mode. The flute and bassoon add colors to the piano’s hues. In the manner of Haydn, the music’s later pages break off into new and brightly lit figures.
The Piano Concerto in D Major (c. 1780) immediately asserts a theatrical canvas. In the operatic continuity of the brief mvmt – highly colored by the woodwinds – the piano is a lyrical commentator. In the Arioso 2nd mvmt, the piano textures fill out, and the runs become ever more elongated. The oboe and flute contribute to a wind serenade. The keyboard functions as a soprano, its melodic line rife with turns, runs, and embellishments. In the finale Allegro, the cheerful piano plays alone in four episodes, two of which move into the minor mode. The music has a Haydnesque lilt, once more favoring the wind serenade with a cushion of strings under the solo piano. The last page resorts to a full hunt-sequence, lively and charming.
The Concerto in D Major: Andante demonstrates more of Beecke’s gifted arioso style, complemented by an oboe part. Pastoral and pleasantly decorative, the music proceeds in ornamental gentility. This delightful work is another enchanted excursion into a creative musical mind.