Two Masterpieces.



  • String Quartets Nos. 15 and 16.

This recording features Beethoven’s last two string quartets, No.15 in A minor, op.132, and No.16 in F, op.135. They are performed here by the Penderecki String Quartet.

The music on this CD represents some of Beethoven’s final expressions for the string quartet. Op.132 takes the listener through a spiritual development from near despair to a triumphant finale. In the middle is perhaps the greatest of all of Beethoven’s Adagios, the “holy song of thanksgiving”, which he composed after an illness. A march then leads to the Finale, culminating in a triumphant coda.

The quartet Op.135, written very near the end of Beethoven’s life, is another matter. Two of its four movements seem hardly serious at all – the first quite jocular, the second (scherzo) even lighter in mood. But the third movement is amazingly sublime – sweet, thoughtful, poignant to the last possible degree. The finale opens with a question, indicated by Beethoven himself: “Must it be?” – and answers “It Must Be!” Coming from a man as near death as Beethoven then was, that is an amazing testament to his spirit, and remains so to this day.

As such, we hear the following:


  • String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132

Performed by the Penderecki String Quartet: Jeremy Bell (violin), Jerzy Kaplanek (violin), Christine Vlajk (viola), Jacob Braun (cello)

Formed in 1986, the Penderecki String Quartet began their career as winners of the Penderecki Prize at the National Chamber Music Competition in Lódz, Poland. The group is presently based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where they have been Quartet-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University since 1991.

Here is the Beethoven String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 performed by the Orion String Quartet:



And next, here is the Beethoven String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135, Movement 3, titled “Assai lento, cantante e tranquillo”:



Tags: Beethoven, quartets, Penderecki String Quartet, string quartets #15 and 16