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PDG
05-01-2001, 04:53 PM
Never mind about Beethoven in C minor, let's talk about Beethoven in C major!! Or more specifically, the quartet op.59 no.3, "Razumovsky". I used to regard this as possibly the weakest of the op.59 set, but now it's my favourite!

The work is a deliberate homage to Mozart in that it cross-references with his "Dissonance" Quartet (K.465) in many ways, not least in the choice of key. Then there's that eerie, atonal intro to the first mvt, & the Mozartean Minuet. The hypnotic slow mvt is characterised by plucked cello strings, while the finale builds & builds to one of the most thrilling conclusions of any Beethoven work - I just cannot listen to this mvt whilst sitting down!

On video, I have the Alban Berg Quartet playing this work (& many others). It is compelling viewing/listening. All dinner suits & bow ties, yes, but whoever said that classical music is boring to watch should go & see a performance of a Beethoven quartet; they'll go home breathless!

Views, please?

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PDG (Peter)

Peter
05-01-2001, 05:44 PM
Your timing of this post is excellent PDG as I'm listening to the Razumovsky's at the moment - Op.59 no.3 is B's 9th quartet and in the margin whilst sketching the finale, Beethoven wrote 'just as you throw yourself into the hurly-burly of life, so you can write works, in spite of all the obstacles that society imposes. Do not keep the secret of your deafness any longer, even in your art'. The quartet is a remarkably unified work and as you say the finale leaves you uplifted and breathless - it's as though Beethoven is saying 'I may be deaf, but just listen to what I can do' - there is definitely a certain defiance in these works. The more I listen to B's quartets, the more I discover and learn. They, more even than the sonatas or Symphonies reveal the composer's soul.

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'Man know thyself'

Rod
05-01-2001, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by PDG:
Never mind about Beethoven in C minor, let's talk about Beethoven in C major!! Or more specifically, the quartet op.59 no.3, "Razumovsky". I used to regard this as possibly the weakest of the op.59 set, but now it's my favourite!


No3 was the only one that was readily accepted at the time it was written, probably because it used more conventional forms than the other two.

Originally posted by PDG:

The work is a deliberate homage to Mozart in that it cross-references with his "Dissonance" Quartet (K.465) in many ways, not least in the choice of key.


It's been many years since I last heard K465, but I recall my impression that M's dissonance was a little more dissonant than B's intro, and as a result stood out more from the rest of the work, whereas B's seems more homogeneous (when it's not played too slow). Just a distant hazy recollection though, could be totally wrong.

Originally posted by PDG:

On video, I have the Alban Berg Quartet playing this work (& many others). It is compelling viewing/listening. All dinner suits & bow ties, yes, but whoever said that classical music is boring to watch should go & see a performance of a Beethoven quartet; they'll go home breathless!

Views, please?


I have had 3 recordings. The first I bought was by the Lindsays, here the last 3 movements are as perfect as I can expect, really excellent, but with the first the intro is way too slow, and the 1st violin is ear-splittingly noisy in the higher notes of the main allegro. The second is by the Talich - ok, but a bit lame throughout. The third by the Schuppanzich using B's own (alledgedly) instruments. Here the first allegro especially benefits from gut strings, the rest is good too, though the plucked cello is not as prominent as would be ideal in this recording.

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

Peter
05-01-2001, 07:25 PM
I have Op.59 no.2 and 3 with the Vegh Quartet - the best versions I've heard of these two.

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'Man know thyself'

Michael
05-02-2001, 09:18 AM
I think the third Razumovsky is one of the wonders of this universe. Most of the first movement shows what a genius can do with two notes, while the second movement must be one of the weirdest pieces that B ever wrote. Only the second movement of the "Ghost" trio can compare with it - and yet both are profoundly beautiful. Sullivan said of the quartet movement that it seemed to recall some "ancient dark night of the soul". The form is unusual too: sonata-form with the order of themes reversed in the recapitulation.
This stupendous movement is followed by a very plain minuet - very plain until you have heard it about ten times, and then it starts to leave most other more "attractive" tunes miles behind.
I am sure that PDG would agree with me when I suggest that the last movement could well be regarded as the most exciting Beethoven finale of all, although the "Appassionata" runs it fairly close.

Michael

Peter
05-02-2001, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by Michael:
I am sure that PDG would agree with me when I suggest that the last movement could well be regarded as the most exciting Beethoven finale of all, although the "Appassionata" runs it fairly close.

Michael

So does the 7th Symphony finale!

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
05-02-2001, 04:11 PM
I think that Michael is referring to the climax of the finale, rather than the whole thing, so I agree about the Appassionata, but disagree about the 7th Symphony! To complete the all-time top 3 finale climaxes, I suggest the sonata, op.110.

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PDG (Peter)

Rod
05-02-2001, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by PDG:
I think that Michael is referring to the climax of the finale, rather than the whole thing, so I agree about the Appassionata, but disagree about the 7th Symphony! To complete the all-time top 3 finale climaxes, I suggest the sonata, op.110.


I would say the 9th comes top in this category (exhilarating finale climaxes), followed by Fidelio.

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

Peter
05-02-2001, 04:56 PM
Originally posted by PDG:
I think that Michael is referring to the climax of the finale, rather than the whole thing, so I agree about the Appassionata, but disagree about the 7th Symphony! To complete the all-time top 3 finale climaxes, I suggest the sonata, op.110.



I think the climax (coda) of the 7th is one of the most exhilarating and exhuberant things in all music! But as Rod points out, there are plenty of others.

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'Man know thyself'

PDG
05-02-2001, 10:33 PM
This is what the late composer, Robert Simpson, said of the third Razumovsky:

"Could the introduction be deafness itself, & the ensuing Allegro vivace relief that the inner ear is unimpaired? Is the obsessive pain of the Allegretto perhaps what Beethoven felt about the outward effects of his deafness? Might the Minuet be a memory of the kind of music he once heard most clearly? It is the memory of the world that Beethoven has seen vanish, though he was born into it. After this - reality, the fight to exist & be something...blotting out the despair & nostalgia of the two previous movements, drowning the sense of failure where ordinary means of communication were concerned. Fugato & sonata, fused together with a heat that Mozart could never have conceived, generating defiant, realistic energy....."

Moving & plausible.

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PDG (Peter)

Rod
05-02-2001, 10:43 PM
Originally posted by Peter:
I think the climax (coda) of the 7th is one of the most exhilarating and exhuberant things in all music! But as Rod points out, there are plenty of others.


A stroke of genius in the 7th's coda is where the huge fanfare just before the close is repeated - for most composers once would be enough, but B obviously saw the potential of the passage and that it could survive the repetition without inducing an anticlimax. One could say the 9th's is a special case, and Fidelio's is a personal favourite. With the sonatas I couldn't choose between op57 and op110, they are the ultimate exhibition of opposites in the current context. Even the greatest piano composers that followed could only dream about producing stuff like this (if they had any vision at all, that is) which is why B is in the rare position whereby he is the master of not only what went before (which could be expected) but of all of what came after! Every note of it!!

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

[This message has been edited by Rod (edited 05-02-2001).]