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Peter
01-03-2001, 05:32 AM
When it comes to discussing favourite B works, it is usually the Symphonies and sonatas that come at the top, so I wondered which quartets are loved the most - I think Op.18 no.1, Op.59 no.1, Op.74, Op.95 and Op.130 are my favourites, but I also love many individual movements from the other quartets.

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'Man know thyself'

Michael
01-03-2001, 03:24 PM
I had a terrible time initially with the quartets. I had recordings of all the symphonies and concertos, and a few piano sonats when I bought a recording of Opus 59 No.3 and Opus 74 (The Harp) and I could not make myself like them. I thought they were the most tuneless, scratchy, awkward pieces of music I had ever heard. Opus 59 No. 1 followed and that didn't seem much better for a while.
The strange thing is that they didn't click in gradually but almost overnight! The next recording I bought was Opus 59 No 2 and that was love at first sight.
I was curious about the late quartets and, having only one musical guide-book (The Pan Book of Great Composers, published in 1964), I looked up what the author had to say. I will copy it exactly - and remember, this guy is writing about the late quartets:

"....taken as a whole, the late quartets make heavy going.... there are those who find beauty even in ugliness, but ugly music remains ugly music no matter who puts his name to it. Rather than pay the customary lip-service to those extraordinary works ... let us recognise and accept the fact that they are predominantly rough-edged and excuse it by recalling that they were put to paper at a time when Beethoven became stone deaf; it is significant that alongside passages of almost divine beauty are some which in theory ought to sound well but in practice don't; others which are so fragmentary in construction that they look and sound as though they were preliminary sketches for ... orchestral composition ...."

Have you had enough? Angels and ministers of grace defend us! And this from a chap who seemed quite knowledgeable, and who wrote well enough about other composers! I wonder how many people read that and avoided the late quartets?
I didn't thankfully. The first two bars of Opus 127 blew away for me all the above tripe!

Michael

PDG
01-03-2001, 10:23 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

When it comes to discussing favourite B works, it is usually the Symphonies and sonatas that come at the top, so I wondered which quartets are loved the most - I think Op.18 no.1, Op.59 no.1, Op.74, Op.95 and Op.130 are my favourites, but I also love many individual movements from the other quartets.


Peter, I`m curious to know why you rate op.18/1 the best of that set. It does have the greatest slow movement - is this what swings it for you? I prefer no.6. In it, I hear B flexing his muscles for the challenges ahead.

I could also ask Michael this: Why op. 59/1 ahead of 59/2 or 59/3? I find it impossible to separate any of them, although the missing exposition repeat of no.1 still throws me!

Of the last 5 quartets, I plump for the A minor, with its hymn of thanksgiving, capricious march & most expressive of all Beethoven finales. I cannot believe that B was in anything other than a joyous mood when he wrote this finale - it has the most enormous power to lift the spirits.

Luis
01-04-2001, 12:12 AM
Originally posted by Michael:
I was curious about the late quartets and, having only one musical guide-book (The Pan Book of Great Composers, published in 1964), I looked up what the author had to say. I will copy it exactly - and remember, this guy is writing about the late quartets:

"....taken as a whole, the late quartets make heavy going.... there are those who find beauty even in ugliness, but ugly music remains ugly music no matter who puts his name to it. Rather than pay the customary lip-service to those extraordinary works ... let us recognise and accept the fact that they are predominantly rough-edged and excuse it by recalling that they were put to paper at a time when Beethoven became stone deaf; it is significant that alongside passages of almost divine beauty are some which in theory ought to sound well but in practice don't; others which are so fragmentary in construction that they look and sound as though they were preliminary sketches for ... orchestral composition ...."

Michael

I donít remember this imbecileís name (not the one you've mentioned, another) but Iíve read he has stated than Bís later quartets not only evidently were composed by a deaf person but also they should be played y deaf musicians too!!

Chris
01-04-2001, 03:09 AM
Whoa - harsh!

Rod
01-04-2001, 07:26 AM
Originally posted by Michael:
I had a terrible time initially with the quartets. I had recordings of all the symphonies and concertos, and a few piano sonats when I bought a recording of Opus 59 No.3 and Opus 74 (The Harp) and I could not make myself like them. I thought they were the most tuneless, scratchy, awkward pieces of music I had ever heard. Opus 59 No. 1 followed and that didn't seem much better for a while.
The strange thing is that they didn't click in gradually but almost overnight!
Michael

Although you seem to have been converted, this is still my opinion regarding the vast majority of interpretations I have heard of these quartets. The awkwardness and scratchiness comes from the uncouth playing techniques used by todays performers, especially the total overuse of vibrato across the total length of any note long enough to allow its use (and also notes that are too short, but have been extended to accomodate vibrato). Then we have the super high tension stringing and the chin rests, further curses of the 20th Century, that allow for totally over the top playing. I had never heard a plausible rendition of the first movement of op59/3 until I got my hands recently on a recording using B's own (as far as can be known) instruments using gut strings - B's use of the high notes sounds ear-splitting to me on steel strings played under exertion, but on this recording the effect was totally natural.

Rod


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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Peter
01-04-2001, 07:36 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
Peter, I`m curious to know why you rate op.18/1 the best of that set. It does have the greatest slow movement - is this what swings it for you? I prefer no.6. In it, I hear B flexing his muscles for the challenges ahead.




You're right PDG - the 2nd movement of Op.18 no.1 definitely swings it for me - the greatest movement from the Op.18 set. I also think the 1st movement and the Scherzo from no.1 are very fine also.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
01-04-2001, 08:34 AM
Originally posted by Peter:
You're right PDG - the 2nd movement of Op.18 no.1 definitely swings it for me - the greatest movement from the Op.18 set. I also think the 1st movement and the Scherzo from no.1 are very fine also.


Whilst no1 is certainly full of merit, I would say no3 is the most stylistically homogeneous work of the set, and as such is more akin to the later quartets.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Michael
01-04-2001, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by PDG:

I could also ask Michael this: Why op. 59/1 ahead of 59/2 or 59/3? I find it impossible to separate any of them, although the missing exposition repeat of no.1 still throws me!

Of the last 5 quartets, I plump for the A minor, with its hymn of thanksgiving, capricious march & most expressive of all Beethoven finales. I cannot believe that B was in anything other than a joyous mood when he wrote this finale - it has the most enormous power to lift the spirits.[/B]

I have just this minute finished listening to the Italianos playing Opus 59 No. 3 and I am wondering how could anyone pick one quartet out of the lot. All I can say about Opus 59 No. 1 is that, like the Pastoral Symphony, it was a breakthrough piece for me and I have a special affection for it. Also, the slow movement is unbelievably beautiful. Beethoven said of the Cavatina from Opus 130 that it brought him to tears just thinking of it. Well, the First Razumovsky slow movement does the same for me.
Regarding the late quartets, if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick just one, I would be dead in seconds. Alright, I'll narrow them down to the E flat, the B flat and the F major. Alright, don't shoot - the E flat (for today anyway).

Michael

Michael
01-05-2001, 11:03 PM
Originally posted by Luis:
I donít remember this imbecileís name (not the one you've mentioned, another) but Iíve read he has stated than Bís later quartets not only evidently were composed by a deaf person but also they should be played y deaf musicians too!!

This imbecile was none other than the "great" conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham. He also described one of the movements of the Seventh Symphony as similar to "a lot of yaks dancing about"! I get the distinct feeling that he wasn't a fan of our boy. It's a wonder he didn't declare that Beethoven was ripe for the madhouse.

Michael

Peter
01-06-2001, 06:22 AM
Originally posted by Michael:
This imbecile was none other than the "great" conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham. He also described one of the movements of the Seventh Symphony as similar to "a lot of yaks dancing about"! I get the distinct feeling that he wasn't a fan of our boy. It's a wonder he didn't declare that Beethoven was ripe for the madhouse.

Michael



Indeed Beecham was no great fan of B - He said 'the best of Beethoven's music, excepting the first 4 concertos,3rd 4th and 6th symphonies is second rate compared to Mozart'. He thought the 9th poorly orchestrated and said it was composed by a kind of Mr.Gladstone of music !

Beecham of course was renowned for his wit, so I don't think he should be taken too seriously .

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'Man know thyself'

Michael
01-06-2001, 09:13 AM
Didn't Beecham also describe the sound of the harpsichord as "two skeletons copulating on a galvanised roof"?

Michael

Rod
01-06-2001, 12:28 PM
Originally posted by Michael:
Didn't Beecham also describe the sound of the harpsichord as "two skeletons copulating on a galvanised roof"?

Michael

Why was this buffoon made a 'Sir'? It can't be for his contribution to the world of music!

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Luis
01-11-2001, 02:09 AM
Originally posted by Michael:
Regarding the late quartets, if you put a gun to my head and told me to pick just one, I would be dead in seconds. Alright, I'll narrow them down to the E flat, the B flat and the F major. Alright, don't shoot - the E flat (for today anyway).

Michael



The E-flat quartet is SO wonderful! To me, the most moving movement is the second. And Iím interested to know what B was trying to figure with it. (If B was actually doing so) as well as what do you picture while hearing it. To me itís solitude. The most profound isolation accompanied with some moments of little happiness, distraction, or resignation. I generally picture the terrible image of Beethoven in one of the most cruel and ironical kind of isolation. To my mind comes the image of he being sit alone on a tavern (maybe reading the newspaper) absorbed on his own thoughts and seeing but not hearing other people talking, laughing, vehemently discussing, while he canít perceive the minimum sound. There is Beethoven, wondering what all these people could be talking about and how he now miss that annoying bustle. How strange all these people are to him and how terrible was his alienation.
- Hey, this could be a good scene for the movie! The tavern full of the typical characters talking and the camera as if were Beethovenís own eyes seen the scene with no sound in the movie at all. And then the quartet music as if Beethoven was starting to compose it. What do you think?

There are plenty of moments in other later quartets that inspire me this loneliness feeling but none like this 2nd movement.


ďThe sound of the harpsichord as two skeletons copulating on a galvanised roofĒ
Ja! Thatís a good one! http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

Rod
01-11-2001, 09:40 AM
Originally posted by Luis:


There are plenty of moments in other later quartets that inspire me this loneliness feeling but none like this 2nd movement.



I agree, one variation in particular captures this feeling of loneliness you mention like no other, but I would not convey this emotion to the whole movement, one of the variations is extremely jolly and playful yet intellectual at the same time, others are meditative. This movement is played too slow on everage for my taste, so that much of the cantabile lyricism is lost in the quest for romantic 'depth'. B's adagio movements are rather more dynamic than performers usually perform them. But the scherzo of op127 is always made a meal of, I've rarely heard a recording where it has been played any faster than moderato.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

Michael
01-12-2001, 10:24 PM
Originally posted by Rod:
I agree, one variation in particular captures this feeling of loneliness you mention like no other, but I would not convey this emotion to the whole movement,

If you are referring to the third variation, I agree with you up to a point. But "loneliness" doesn't come near to describing the quality of this variation - it is nothing short of devastating - another inadequate word. It is one of those spiritual states that cannot be conveyed in mere words, hence we need music.
It is rare to come across a set of variations that has, as its theme, a supremely beautiful melody. B achieves this in Opus 27 and again in the Ninth Symphony. Usually, he relies on rather skeletal themes to build up his monumental structures (as in the C minor variations, the Eroica and the Diabelli).

Michael

Peter
01-13-2001, 04:59 AM
Originally posted by Michael:
It is rare to come across a set of variations that has, as its theme, a supremely beautiful melody.
Michael



Two other beautiful themes come to mind, Op.26 first movement and the 3rd movement of the Archduke Trio Op.97.


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'Man know thyself'

PDG
01-13-2001, 03:12 PM
Given Beethoven`s superhuman, intuitive genius, it amazes me that he compromised his art to the point where he agreed to substitute the finale of the op.130 quartet. Now, I love both the Grosse Fugue & the rondo which replaced it, but I have only seen the quartet performed with the rondo. This means that whatever Beethoven`s aspirations for op.130, they can never be realised all the time this practice continues. He would never have allowed himself to be coersed, & since he knew that he was not much longer for this world, I will never understand his decision. It surely can have little to do with the Fugue`s inaccessibility, since audiences were already confused by his music!

With the rondo, op.130 is still a masterpiece, but the inescapable feeling is that it is a compromised, corrupted masterpiece.

Michael
01-13-2001, 04:16 PM
I think you are right, PDG, when you say that B was not forced into changing the finale of the B flat quartet. When was he ever motivated by public opinion?
That the late quartets were misunderstood at the time of their first performances seems to be something of a myth. The original problem with listeners to the Grosse Fugue was its length rather than its content. It was after B's death that some vigorous attacks were made on his late music, and even his earlier works. No less a person than Grillparzer, who gave the famous oration at B's funeral, privately condemned some aspects of the composer's art in a diary entry in 1834, citing "Beethoven's harmful effects on the world of music, despite his inestimably high worth."
One possible theory for the substitute finale is that B took it as a musical challenge. Perhaps he was intrigued by the effect the alteration of its ending would have on a work? And the B flat would seem to be a good choice for such an experiment.
After a rather weighty first movement, there is a succession of shorter, gentler movements - rather like a Baroque suite. Listening to it with the new rondo ending, the whole work becomes lighter in tone - rather like the last quartet of all. But when you listen to it with the Grosse Fugue finale, that last mighty edifice throws a backward shadow and alters your perception of the entire piece.
Originally, I preferred the rondo but over a period of twenty years (gasp!) the Grosse Fugue is now the only finale for me. It can be listened to on its own with satisfaction, but when it comes in on the dying strains of the Cavatina - like the last movement of the Ninth after the adagio - you know that this is it!
The Grosse Fugue is one of those pieces of music that should never be heard for the first time! I have only started to unlock its secrets - possibly because I listen harmonically instead of polyphonically. I can't follow a Bach organ fugue to save my life, but it doesn't stop me listening. Anyway, isn't fugue a texture rather than a form?
Somebody once wrote that "if any work justifies the invention of the gramophone, its the 'Grosse Fugue'. As if the gramophone or the CD player needed justification, but I know what he meant.

Michael

PDG
01-13-2001, 07:56 PM
Michael, the Viennese not taking to the length, rather than the content, of the Gross Fugue, is a new one on me. The effect of the Fugue immediately following the Cavatina is quite jarring - more so than the way the 4th movement follows the 3rd in the 9th symphony - & surely, Beethoven must have realised this better than anyone. We know that the Cavatina was "composed in the very tears of misery," so why did he not use a short, transitionary movement to link the Cavatina with the Fugue, as he did by using a march to link the Hymn of Thanksgiving to the tempestuous finale, in op.132?

Also, I can`t agree that he may have substituted the Rondo for the Fugue as some kind of experiment, just to see what effect this had on the work, especially given the nature of the work. I think it more likely that the Rondo was Beethoven`s mocking gesture towards his critics ("those cattle, those assas"). They couldn`t take the Fugue, so now they would have to settle for a pastiche, instead! The trouble is, of course, that this is such a great movement in its own right, that his gesture has been, ultimately, self-defeating, for the Rondo remains the established finale of op.130!

I think Beethoven believed that one day the Fugue would be restored to the quartet, but it has yet to happen. It would appear that the public still prefers, or is still assumed to prefer, his great op.130 with the "wrong" finale.

Michael
01-13-2001, 10:31 PM
Yes, the rondo substitute is itself a great movement, and B may well have been having a laugh at those "asses" - who knows?
But I think the fugal finale is coming into its own nowadays - I don't know about live performances but certainly in recordings. Some years back, on a recording of Opus 130, you would find the rondo placed directly after the Cavatina, and the Grosse Fugue following as an alternative. Nowadays, it's usually the other way round, and some recordings of the quartet have been issued with the rondo alternative not included at all.
Regarding the jarring effect of the Grosse Fugue coming after the Cavatina, Beethoven was not shy of using those shock tactics. In his early days, when he played in public and reduced his audience to tears, his favourite trick was to slam down the piano lid and give a guffaw.

Michael

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 01-13-2001).]

Peter
01-14-2001, 07:24 AM
I can't imagine Beethoven being badgered into anything against his artistic judgement - he must genuinely have felt the Fugue to be an inappropiate finale. He had of course done the same thing many years earlier with the Waldstein sonata in replacing the Andante Faviori with the more profound adagio. You could also ask why he didn't replace the finale of Op.106, it is surely equally as difficult to understand and play as the Grosse fugue.

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
01-14-2001, 08:19 PM
Originally posted by Peter:

I can't imagine Beethoven being badgered into anything against his artistic judgement - he must genuinely have felt the Fugue to be an inappropiate finale. He had of course done the same thing many years earlier with the Waldstein sonata in replacing the Andante Faviori with the more profound adagio. You could also ask why he didn't replace the finale of Op.106, it is surely equally as difficult to understand and play as the Grosse fugue.


I don`t think one can compare the fugue finale of op.106 with the fugue finale of op.130. For a start, the complexity of the Hammerklavier means that a fugue was, probably, the only available option with which to resolve this work; it is also linked to the adagio by a transitionary "movement", which prepares the listener for the "strap yourself in" ride ahead. Beethoven also provided such a linking movement between the Hymn of Thanksgiving & the finale of his life-affirming op. 132.

Also, the idea that Beethoven accepted that the Grosse Fugue was inappropriate for op. 130 is ridiculous! We know that he was furious that, at the first performance, the Fugue was not encored.

Rod
01-15-2001, 06:16 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
Given Beethoven`s superhuman, intuitive genius, it amazes me that he compromised his art to the point where he agreed to substitute the finale of the op.130 quartet. Now, I love both the Grosse Fugue & the rondo which replaced it, but I have only seen the quartet performed with the rondo. This means that whatever Beethoven`s aspirations for op.130, they can never be realised all the time this practice continues. He would never have allowed himself to be coersed, & since he knew that he was not much longer for this world, I will never understand his decision. It surely can have little to do with the Fugue`s inaccessibility, since audiences were already confused by his music!

With the rondo, op.130 is still a masterpiece, but the inescapable feeling is that it is a compromised, corrupted masterpiece.

It has been proven from the sketches that the replacement is more in line with Beethoven's original intentions for the finale of this work - the fugue being an afterthought. One has to come to the conclusion that he saw some validity in the critisism of the fugue, the extra cash then being an additional incentive. No-one critisises B over the replacement af the andante in the Waldstein sonata brought about under similar circumstances. Over time I can come to accept the replacement as a viable option for the finale based on my experience of period instruments and performance practise, for under these conditions the nature and balance of the work as a whole accomodates the replacement far more effectively than modern interpretations, which reduce the rondos effectiveness, making it seem somewhat trivial after the gravity of the cavatina and an ineffective balance to the first movement. With authentic practice the opening allegro would certainly have a lighter air, whilst the replacement rondo loses this air of triviality. Though I accept you'd have to hear all this for real to understand fully, unless you're accustomed to authentic methods. Of course it helps if all repeats are observed also.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

[This message has been edited by Rod (edited 01-15-2001).]

Peter
01-15-2001, 10:11 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
I don`t think one can compare the fugue finale of op.106 with the fugue finale of op.130. For a start, the complexity of the Hammerklavier means that a fugue was, probably, the only available option with which to resolve this work;

I wasn't comparing the 2 as such - I was simply backing up my case, which you have also done! I don't accept that a fugue finale was the only option for the Hammerklavier - why? you could argue that because of the complexity of the previous movements, something a little lighter and more jovial would be appropiate - It's very easy with hindsight to say something was inevitable. What about Op.110 - if the complexity of Op.106 justifies a fugue finale, what justifies it in Op.110?

I still maintain that Beethoven considered the new finale to Op.130 more appropiate than the Grosse Fugue and to change that now would be as wrong as replacing the 2nd movement of the Waldstein with the Andante Favori - In both cases Beethoven's artistic judgement prevailed, not the wishes of others.If the idea of Beethoven not being satisfied with the Grosse Fugue as the finale is ridiculous, why did he write an alternative movement - against his artistic judgement? - I don't think so.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 01-15-2001).]

PDG
01-15-2001, 02:37 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
I wasn't comparing the 2 as such - I was simply backing up my case, which you have also done! I don't accept that a fugue finale was the only option for the Hammerklavier - why? you could argue that because of the complexity of the previous movements, something a little lighter and more jovial would be appropiate - It's very easy with hindsight to say something was inevitable. What about Op.110 - if the complexity of Op.106 justifies a fugue finale, what justifies it in Op.110?
I still maintain that Beethoven considered the new finale to Op.130 more appropiate than the Grosse Fugue and to change that now would be as wrong as replacing the 2nd movement of the Waldstein with the Andante Favori - In both cases Beethoven's artistic judgement prevailed, not the wishes of others.If the idea of Beethoven not being satisfied with the Grosse Fugue as the finale is ridiculous, why did he write an alternative movement - against his artistic judgement? - I don't think so.


Peter, for a start, the Hammerklavier would not be the awesome work that it is if it ended with a light, jovial movement, so thank God Beethoven left it alone! My main point about op.106 & yes, op.110, is that we are lead into these fugues by trasitionary "movements", which help prepare us for what`s to come, yet there is nothing separating the Cavatina from the Grosse Fugue in op.130, & I`m interested in possible reasons why.

You seem happy to accept the rondo as the quartet`s established finale, but it is clear, even from recent posts here, that opinion is divided on this matter. It is known that Beethoven went berserk upon learning that the critics & public alike had not taken to the fugue. I`ve already stated why I think he offered the rondo as a replacement finale, & I still say that with this concession, Beethoven compromised his artistic judgement, intentionally or otherwise.

Peter
01-15-2001, 03:43 PM
Originally posted by PDG:
[B
I`ve already stated why I think he offered the rondo as a replacement finale, & I still say that with this concession, Beethoven compromised his artistic judgement, intentionally or otherwise.[/B]

And I still say that he never would have done such a thing had he not thought it preferable.
Surely the Cavatina would have served as a preparatory movement (like the arioso from Op.110) without the need for another slow movement as well.

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
01-15-2001, 06:30 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
And I still say that he never would have done such a thing had he not thought it preferable.
Surely the Cavatina would have served as a preparatory movement (like the arioso from Op.110) without the need for another slow movement as well.


A linking movement needn`t have been slow - the march of op.132 neatly separates the Thanksgiving Hymn from the joyous finale. Without the march, I feel that these two enormous, emotionally-opposed movements would rest uneasily, side by side.

I cannot agree that the function of the Cavatina was to serve as a "preparatory" movement - it`s too mood-inducing. You are saying that Beethoven did not compromise his artistic judgement by substituting the rondo for the fugue; the inference, therefore, is that he made an error of judgement by including the fugue in the first place. I don`t believe this was the case. Ultimately, of course, we`ll probably never know, & we may have to settle for agreeing to disagree.

Peter
01-16-2001, 05:22 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
A linking movement needn`t have been slow - the march of op.132 neatly separates the Thanksgiving Hymn from the joyous finale. Without the march, I feel that these two enormous, emotionally-opposed movements would rest uneasily, side by side.

I agree

I cannot agree that the function of the Cavatina was to serve as a "preparatory" movement - it`s too mood-inducing.

What about the arioso dolente of Op.110 ?


You are saying that Beethoven did not compromise his artistic judgement by substituting the rondo for the fugue; the inference, therefore, is that he made an error of judgement by including the fugue in the first place.

Yes - every time he revised a work, it was for the better - Op.53, Op.18 no.1 , Fidelio (although some great music was lost), Op.19 are examples. The original endings of both the Pastoral Symphony 2nd movement and the 8th Symphony 1st movement were both altered, and for the better. Peter.

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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 01-15-2001).]

Rod
01-16-2001, 09:29 AM
Originally posted by PDG:
A linking movement needn`t have been slow - the march of op.132 neatly separates the Thanksgiving Hymn from the joyous finale. Without the march, I feel that these two enormous, emotionally-opposed movements would rest uneasily, side by side.

I cannot agree that the function of the Cavatina was to serve as a "preparatory" movement - it`s too mood-inducing. You are saying that Beethoven did not compromise his artistic judgement by substituting the rondo for the fugue; the inference, therefore, is that he made an error of judgement by including the fugue in the first place. I don`t believe this was the case. Ultimately, of course, we`ll probably never know, & we may have to settle for agreeing to disagree.


The mood inducing nature of the cavatina is usually the main reason given for it being a preparatory movement to the fugue! Whether B made an error of judgement in besides the point, and will always be a value gudgement. B obviously though a movement of the rondos nature could fit in op130 as a finale - whereby we must reconsider the nature of the work as a whole, which relates to my earlier comments regarding the performance of the piece.

Rod



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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin

PDG
01-16-2001, 02:42 PM
Peter & Rod, I appreciate your views, but I still feel that if Beethoven had not effectively been on his death-bed, then he would have fought harder to keep the fugue as the finale. With the other works you mentioned, Peter, either altering only endings of movements (opp.68, 93), or substituting one for another of similar texture within a work (op.53), or making changes before publication (op.18/1); none of these is as dramatic a turnaround as replacing a devilishly-complex fugue, with a witty, hum-along rondo (brilliant though this is).

Luis
01-16-2001, 10:04 PM
I agree with Rod about the introductory purpose of the cavatina. If you hear the cavatina and the fugue you can easily perceive that both movements are highly thematically related. Their relation is something similar to the thunderstorm of the 6th. Have you noticed that the second half of the thunderstorm still if itís very tumultuous, somehow you could imagine it played very peacefully? I donít know if B was trying to do this, but its like he didnít want to picture any kind of thunderstorm but one that occurs in the paradisiac ambient of the previous movements! For itís that place what is wounded by the storm.

Still I, personally, donít like neither the fugue nor the allegro as finales for the quartet. The allegro because itís not, in my humble opinion, an exceptional finale for such a glorious quartet. And the fugue because, still if itís tightly related to the cavatina, it dismantle the almost cosmic harmony of it. Here, again, the relations between these two movements reminds me Bís last sonata and its meaning. The fugue after the cavatina itís like the allegro appassionato of op. 111 played after the arietta: too pessimistic, I might say.
Itís like the cavatina was a dream of an idealized after death situation (itís perhaps the most spiritual of all his works) cut by the ďrealityĒ of a delirium tremens of a desperate Beethoven being in his death bed not ready to affront his own deathly destiny and thinking of that dream, instead of a relieve, as one more horrible torment of his actual situation.

You know how I usually listen this quartet? I program my CD player like this: Tracks: 1, 2, 7 (finale allegro), 4, 3, 6 (grosse fugue), and then 5, the cavatina. Some of you might think this is hideous and a treachery, I donít care; to me nothing can follow the cavatina!!! No more music for an hour or so!

Rod
01-17-2001, 09:06 AM
Originally posted by Luis:
I agree with Rod about the introductory purpose of the cavatina. If you hear the cavatina and the fugue you can easily perceive that both movements are highly thematically related...

I wasn't voicing this opinion particularly as my own, but rather as a popular sentiment. The structure of the Cavatina does not strike me as that of an intro piece, however it could be said that the relative seriousness of this movement relative to the others is necessary to allow the logical following of the ultra-serious fugue in this work. But I can tell you, authentically performed, the tone of the Cavatina would not sound so relatively dark and the rondo would not sound so light - modern strings being simultaneously darker and more brilliant in their tone, with a marginally higher pitch. Over-use of vibrato adds adds a trivial air to anything. Thus at that time the contrast between the two would not have been as pronounced as it is typically today. This has to be a consideration. The first and last movements of op135 have a similarly different complexion played in the authentic manner (see the recording by the Erioca Quartet) - their lighter moments sound far less light compared to modern interpretations. My point being that modern playing techniques and equipment enhance the extremes of 'light' and 'dark'. Also the rondo tends to be played rather lamely anyway, as if it were merely an afterthough in rehersal as well for Beethoven.

Rod

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"If I were but of noble birth..." - Rod Corkin