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This is one of my absolute favorite works. It is seldom performed partially because it requires so many musicians and is quite short in length. It is too short to program as a stand alone concert, and not appropriate to pair it with another choral-orchestral work like his ninth symphony. It uses 4 vocal soloists, a full choir, concert pianist and full orchestra.
In this work you will hear the Ode to Joy from his Choral Symphony No. 9. The piano solo is a brilliant and dynamic part that reflects the grandeur of Beethoven's music in it's finest.
Beethoven composed the Choral Fantasy in two weeks to end a concert that he had planned. In fact it was so close to the performance the orchestra did not have time to rehearse and Beethoven played the piano himself for the concert.
Needless to say without rehearsal the orchestra fell apart and had to stop. Beethoven started the Fantasy again. This was the last time Beethoven played piano in public.
The work starts with a piano solo with improvisational sections. Beethoven did not even write them down until two years after the concert. Because of the melodic similarities, many people see this work as a preamble to the Ninth Symphony "Ode to Joy" which was written fifteen years later.