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Title The Fantasy for piano and orchestra with choir, opus 80

The Fantasy opus 80 presented by Daniel Achache.

The Choral Fantasy opus 80 for piano, chorus and orchestra, in C minor then C major is composed for the following forces:

  • solo piano
  • soloists: SSATTB (sopranos, alto, tenors, bass)
  • choir SATB (sopranos, altos, tenors, bass)
  • orchestra: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 timpani and strings.

Duration of the work: 18 to 20 minutes.

The score requires 6 vocal soloists of quality (2 sopranos, 1 mezzo soprano, 2 tenors, 1 bass):

  • be it great singers (see the Richter-Haaser and Karl Böhm of Vienna version);
  • be it from the choir (the most frequent case with diverse quality);
  • be it that the "soloists" parts are sung by a "small" choir (see the version of Alfred Brendel and Bernard Haitink).

La Fantaisie est composée en 7 parties :

1 - Adagio, 3-4 min: solo piano, introduction in C minor, in the character of a voluntary, more or less pronounced according to the performer, but it already has the aspect of the improvised "fantasy".

2 - Allegro, 1 min: entry of the orchestra: solemn strings, piano-orchestra dialogue (analogy with the second movement of the 4th concerto).

3 - Meno Allegro, 5 min: 3 horn calls (masonic?) with echo, statement of the theme in all its beauty: piano solo, then some variations (flute with piano, oboes with piano, clarinet and bassoon, solo strings).
Then, subito crescendo: forte tutti orchestra; afterwards long piano-orchestra dialogue (a veritable concerto for piano) and many episodes of varies and remarkable characters.

4 - Adagio ma non troppo, 2 min 40: winds over trills on the piano, purely pianistic passage, piano-orchestra dialogue (aspect of chamber music), trills on piano…

5 - Marcia, assai vivace, 2 min 10: lively and energetic march (winds, emphasized by the strings) then the piano revives, concertante passage, fanfares and long transition: uniquely pianistic passage then a sort of cadenza.

6 - Allegretto ma non troppo, 2 min 20: entry of solemn strings; grand arpeggios on piano (recalling the beginning of the concerto for piano, the "Emperor").
First entry of the solo voices: women and men (with piano) then tutti choir and orchestra, then choir-piano dialogue.
Second intervention of the soloists: choir and development until a false finish.
Third entry of the soloists: finally choir dialogue with the piano.

7 - Presto, 1 min 40:
Apotheosis chorale: final verse with a masonic resonance ("When Love and Strength unite…")
Conclusion: piano and orchestra in the fashion of a concerto.

Daniel Achache

Chorfantasie (1808)
Christophe Kuffner (1780 - 1846)

Schmeichelnd hold und lieblich klingen
Unsers Lebens Harmonien,
Und dem Schönheitssinn entschwingen
Blumen sich, die ewig blühn.

Fried' und Freude gleiten freundlich
Wie der Wellen Wechselspiel;
Was sich drängte rauh und feindlich,
Ordnet sich zu Hochgefühl.

Wenn der Töne Zauber walten
Und des Wortes Weihe spricht,
Muß sich Herrliches gestalten,
Nacht und Stürme werden Licht.

Äuß're Ruhe, inn're Wonne
Herrschen für den Glücklichen.
Doch der Künste Frühlingssonne
Läßt aus beiden Licht entstehn.

Großes, das ins Herz gedrungen,
Blüht dann neu und schön empor,
Hat ein Geist sich aufgeschwungen,
Hallt ihm stets ein Geisterchor.

Nehmt denn hin, ihr schönen Seelen,
Froh die Gaben schöner Kunst.
Wenn sich Lieb' und Kraft vermählen,
Lohnt dem Menschen Göttergunst.

For opus 80 exists an other German text from Johannes R. Becher, of 1951, a poet and minister of the DDR (German Democratic Republic). More:
Title The "Choral Fantasy" by Barenboim and Klemperer

Daniel Barenboim seems to be particularly fond of the "fantasy" for piano, with orchestra and choral ensemble.

His first performance dates to 1960, recorded in Vienna, with spirit, under the baton of Laslo Somogyi. He was 18 years old. In 1967, in London, it is the great Otto Klemperer who is the director. In his public performance in 1994, he played and conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (CD and DVD).

The interest in the 1967 version is the "confrontation" of a 25 year old pianist with a giant Beethovenien, Otto Klemperer, aged 82 years. Note that, in this version, the six solo vocalists are replaced by a "little choir", a better solution than that which consists of "extracting" six singers from the choir, the standard of which is often insufficient for such a score.

Cd Beethoven
Piano: Daniel Baremboim
Directed by: Otto Klemperer
Emi - 1967

From his entry, Daniel Barenboim asserts himself with mastery. The interventions of the orchestra are majestic because the conductor never loses his authority, his precision and his grandure. At the first tutti we already hear the Ninth Symphony.

The "march" passage is animated and the piano responds in an animated fashion. Much later the entry of the "little choir" is introduced in a natural fashion and leads appropriately to the grand choir, who "burst" with valour, until the jubilant finale.

In summary, a remarkable version, very lively and of an unequalled logic.

Daniel Achache

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Title A very lovely modern version of the Choral Fantasy

This CD “Credo”astonishes and that without a doubt was spontaneous: surrounding “The Tempest” and the “Fantaisie Chorale” of Beethoven, are two works of contemporary musicians.

One of the rare works of Beethoven recorded by Hélène Grimaud, the virtuoso is sensitive and the exchange with the orchestra is genuine.

Bewitchingly, the pianist impressed, at certain moments transportes us to sublime worlds, stealthily.

Exists on SACD.  Search Buy from
Credo - Hélène Grimaud
Hélène Grimaud, piano
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
Deutsche Grammophone - 2004
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Title The Choral Fantasy on period instruments with improvisation
Cd Beethoven
Robert Levin, piano
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et romantique conducted by
John Eliot Gardiner
Archiv 1996

This CD, extracted from the complete concertos for piano, includes the Choral Fantasy opus 80. This interpretation gives much enhancement to each of the three actors of this Fantasy: the piano, the orchestra and the Harmonie choir, strength and delicacy are the master words.

Robert Levin, of a fortepiano by Salvator Lagrassa of 1812, gratifies us with two improvised introductions…

The Monteverdi Choir, and the Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique are conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.

The soloists are: Constanze Backes and Angela Kazimierczuk (sopranos), Susanna Spicer (alto), Robert Johnston and Julian Podger (tenors), and Julian Clarkson (bass).

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Title Another very beautiful version of the Choral Fantasy

This version is lively, musical and very touching.

Paul Komen plays on a fortepiano by Slavator La Grassa of about 1815.

Bruno Weil conducts the Kölner Kantorei and the Capella Coloniensis des WDR.

The soloists are: Tanja Schun and Ann Janssens (sopranos), Elisabeth Graf (alto), Thomas Heyer and Andreas Häsler (tenors), and Sebastien Klein (bass).

The CD also includes the first recording of the cantata which Liszt composed for the inauguration of the Beethoven monument in Bonn in 1845. You can also read the words of the cantata by Liszt…

Lizst on cd
Conducted by: Bruno Weil
Choirs of the Cologne Order
Recorded October 4th 2000
DHM - 2001
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Many thanks to Melanie PIDDOCKE for her translation of this page from French into English
© Dominique PREVOT
Music Sheet Plus

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