While planning our approach to this recording, we decided to broaden our interpretative horizons through interaction with Beethoven specialist Dr Stewart Young, whose decades of research into his music has been ongoing and is not limited to the thorny tempo issues surrounding particularly his metronome marks. Whilst all interpretative decisions were of course our own, we benefitted from the open interaction provided by an ‘outside’ pair of ears in discussion, rehearsal and the sessions themselves.We especially placed value upon the interpretative legacy on things Beethovenian that his pupil and highly respected pianist friend Carl Czerny assembled in his extensive 1846 notes on the “Correct Performance” of all Beethoven’s keyboard works, currently available in German facsimile and English translation. (Universal Edition UE13340) Czerny had had the unique privilege of studying with the master for some years, and at 21 was soloist in the Vienna première of the ‘Emperor’ Concerto. In 1824 he felt he had to decline Beethoven’s short-notice request to contribute just its 2nd and 3rd movements in the repeat of the ‘Akademie’ at which his 9th Symphony was premièred – an invitation confirming the highest regard with which Beethoven viewed him.
What would today’s performers give for a time-machine lesson from a musician with such access and experience? Fortunately, much of what he would impart is available in his published advice and, as interpreters, we have tried to take this to heart fully and thus honour his overall philosophy of service to the composer’s conceptions, through always working within his suggested tempi (about which he echoes Beethoven’s own expressed view of it as absolutely fundamental) and aiming to recreate imaginatively and as faithfully as possible the various characters he suggested. A supplementary interactive website atwww.twopianistsblog.com gives much more comprehensive information, and invites submissions to help hone accuracy, and allow airing of a range of viewpoints.