Both masters alter the original violin figures here and there for convenience or effect. Thus Bach, in the last movement of the G minor clavier concerto (Dörffel, 566), puts
for the violin figure
and in the last movement of the D major (Dörffel, 572) puts
in the E major violin concerto.
The nature of Beethoven's alterations may be judged of from the following quotation from the last movement, after the cadenza:—
Another typical alteration is after the coda in the first movement, where, in the thirteenth bar from the end, in order to give the left hand something to do, Beethoven anticipates the figure of smoothly flowing semiquavers with which the part of the violin closes, making the two hands alternate till they join in playing the last passage in octaves. In both masters' works there are instances of holding notes being changed into shakes in the arrangements, as in the 7th and 8th bars of the slow movement of the D concerto of Bach, and the 2nd and 5th bars after the first tutti in the last movement of Beethoven's concerto. In both there are instances of simple devices to avoid rapid repetition of notes, which is an easy process on the violin, but an effort on the pianoforte, and consequently produces a different effect. They both amplify arpeggio passages within moderate bounds, both are alike careful to find a precedent for the form of a change when one becomes necessary, and in both the care taken to be faithful to the originals is conspicuous.
The same care is observable in another arrangement of Beethoven's, viz. the Pianoforte Trio made from his second symphony.
The comparison between these is very interesting owing to the unflagging variety of the distribution of the orchestral parts to the three instruments. The pianoforte naturally takes the substance of the work, but not in such a manner as to throw the others into subordination. The strings are used mostly to mark special orchestral points and contrasts, and to take such things as the pianoforte is unfitted for. Their distribution is so free that the violin will sometimes take notes that are in the parts of three or more instruments in a single bar. In other respects the strings are used to reinforce the accompaniment, so that in point of fact the violin in the trio plays more of the second violin part than of the first, and the violoncello of any other instrument from basso to oboe than the part given to it in the symphony.
The changes made are few and only such as are necessitated by technical differences, and are of the same simple kind with those in the concerto, and originating in similar circumstances. Everything in the distribution of the instruments subserves some purpose, and the re-sorting of the details always indicates some definite principle not at variance with the style of the original.
An illustration of the highest order in more modern works is found in the exquisitely artistic arrangement of the 'Midsummer Night's Dream' music for four hands on one pianoforte by Mendelssohn himself.
The step from Beethoven to Mendelssohn embraces a considerable development of the knowledge of the technical and tonal qualities of the pianoforte, as well as of its mechanical improvement as an instrument. This becomes apparent in the different characteristics of Mendelssohn's work, which in matter of detail is much more free than Beethoven's, though quite as faithful in general effect.
At the very beginning of the overture is an instance in point, where that which appears in the score as
is in the pianoforte arrangement given as
the object evidently being to avoid the repetition and the rapid thirds which would mar the lightness and crispness and delicacy of the passage.
In one instance a similar effect is produced by a diametrically contrary process, where Bottom's bray, which in the original is given to strings and clarinets (a), is given in the pianoforte arrangement as at (b):—
- Breitkopf's edition of Beethoven, No. 90.