Beethoven premiered his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat in 1795. However, it was not until about 1809 that Beethoven finally wrote down a cadenza for Op. 19, possibly for the use of the Archduke Rudolph. By 1809, when Beethoven did so, it was too late: his style, not to speak of the range of his piano, had changed radically Ð this was more...the period of the far more adventurous harmonic and polyphonic language of the Harp Quartet (Op. 74), the Emperor Concerto (Op. 73) and the Lebewohl Sonata (Op. 81a). The 1809 cadenza, a stunning and startling piece of work, needless to say, puts the 1795 concerto into the wrong perspective, as C. K. suspected Ð making it seem simplistic (which it isn't) and old-fashioned (which it wasn't in 1795) Ð and intensifies, rather than satisfies, the curiosity about what Beethoven might have originally improvised. Fortunately, Beethoven left us a hint.
The present reconstruction represents the first time the 1793 cadenza sketches have been interpreted and assembled, although many scholars have recognized their existence. Among performers, only Steven Lubin and Robert Levin, to my knowledge, have taken notice of them, the former playing his own cadenza, as the 1809 Beethoven one "far exceeds the range of the piano used in the premiere", while the latter decided it was "more in keeping with the spirit of spontaneity" to improvise a cadenza than to reconstruct BeethovenÕs. But it is hoped that the present edition will not only fill a need but partially satisfy a curiosity, and at the very least, provide a stylistically plausible solution to a centuries-old enigma. Hopefully, too, Beethoven's exciting musical ideas, formed at a turning point in his life, will be aired for the first time. These are offered here in our own new transcription, so the reader can tell which they are. The editorial tempo changes attempt to suggest Beethoven's "distinctive" style of piano-playing. - Kenneth Cooper