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Eulenburg Audio+Score
Beethoven ‘Emperor’ Concerto
Beethoven Symphony No 5

(Scores include performances on Naxos CDs)

These are two of a series of 'fifty great masterworks' combining miniature full score, recording and introductory essay. The editions are by recognised authorities, Richard Clarke for the symphony, Paul Badura-Skoda and his long-time assistant Akira Imai for the concerto.

I’m not convinced by how ‘special’ the marketing of these Eulenburg Scores + recording (called Audio+Score) is. Coupling a study-score with a Naxos CD (Vladar/Capella Istropolitana/ Wordsworth, and Ensemble Esterhazy/Drahos respectively) may be more expedient than innovatory.

When choosing very well-known works such as these, there can be few who buy one (score or CD) who don’t already have access to the other. Certainly, these are well-known Naxos performances that have been around for some time, are well-respected, but have certainly not made any waves. In this case, there are also some introductory notes, but they could be much longer, and they do not relate at any point to editorial readings.

However, just as there has always been the need for yet another edition of Shakespeare (one has just appeared based on the idea that the First Folio is the best source), yet another history of the Trojan War and so on (in the sense that each age needs to reinterpret its own past), we should also welcome this new reiteration of the 'canon of great music.'

One important point: Audio+Score is amazingly good value. It is buy one, get one free. For the price of a score or a Naxos disc, you get both. If you are starting out to acquire a collection of scores and CDs, this gives you both.

There have been plenty of (more?) interesting attempts to link printed (some purists object to the term ‘sheet music’ when it’s bound!) and recorded music. DG brought out a number of CDs where the score was encoded on the disc; as the music played on your computer, the score showed on your monitor and a moving pointer indicated where exactly you were [see Beethoven/Pollini pluscore]; Music minus one – recording with a solo or obbligato part taken out of the recording for performers to practise themselves, have been in existence for a long time.

Charles Rosen, of course, as one of the few musicologists also credible as concert pianists, includes a CD of himself playing examples in his classic book 'The Romantic Generation.' When reading the book, however,I did not feel a need to play the CD - the printed music examples perfectly demonstrated Rosen's argument.

The problem of arbitrarily combining the two is that the need to refer from one to the other usually arises because of a specific musicological problem and therefore requires digging out either a specific edition or a specific recording. One hears an unusual note in concert or on CD. Back to the Urtext score, perhaps to the autograph, to see if Editor X of Edition Y discussed that reading. One sees a contested reading in the text. How does artist X choose to play it?

Here are a couple of examples off the top of my head – the ‘repeated’ semiquaver triplets in Beethoven’s Op. 110 Arioso – tied or not? Encourages one to survey a dozen recordings to see what pianists have chosen. The repeat marks to the first movement exposition of Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’ sonata – do they include the slow introduction bars at the start? For many years, Mitsuko Uchida fought a lone battle to say they did, subsequent scholarship has vindicated her. Had one heard her recording when it first appeared, one would have been driven to the ‘critical notes’ of an edition straight away.

So I’m not entirely sure what market Eulenburg / Schott are aiming for here, but the scores are well-produced and easy to read, the discs are serviceable, I hope their sales justify the concept.

Ying Chang

Eulenburg Scores