Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beethoven's String Quartets Part 3

Rounding out my exploration of Beethoven's string quartets, I've been listening to the last two CD's in the collection of Late String Quartets performed by the Guarneri Quartet. This includes (in order of the recording) Opp. 131, 127, 130, 135.

Op. 131 in C-sharp Minor is seven movements long, busting the standard number of Mozart and Haydn of four. I don't know how many times I tried to listen to this quartet, but it must have been dozens. Like an earlier quartet, it just put me to sleep. I did get one full listen-through and found that I did like it, especially the second movement, but, otherwise, it just didn't stick.

In fact, none of them really stuck in my head.

I did find Op. 127 pretty uplifting. Makes pretty nice patterns in my Windows Media Player, too. It contains only four movements, with the last movement recorded on the third and last CD (seven movements take up a lot of space).

Next is Op. 130, which is six movements long. The Grosse Fugue (Op. 133, written about in the last entry) was originally the last movement of Op. 130 (Quartet No. 13). This is another work which has a full sound, which appeals to symphony lovers like myself.

Finally, there's Op. 135, Quartet No. 16. At only four movements, we find Beethoven coming back to the standard number of movements. This is probably my favorite of the Late Quartets. With my limited knowledge of chamber music, this work sounds more like I expect to hear from a string quartet. I've found it on YouTube, performed by the Hagen Quartet, and embedded it below.









I've begun listening to trios:piano trios and string trios. This should prove to be a nice warm-up for tackling Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. For that, at least, I'll have Robert Greenberg to help me.

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