- Complete String Quartets, Volume 4.
This CD is of particular interest because the performers combined the first quartet from Beethoven’s early Op. 18, with one of the last quartets that the Master composed before he died.
And yes: there is a huge difference in the style of these two works. This first is reminiscent of Haydn and Mozart. The Op. 131 sets new standards for the way composers created quartets during the next 100 years or more.
We hear the following:
- String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 No. 1
- String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131
Performed by the Quartetto di Cremona.
Beethoven had opened his Op. 18 set of quartets with the Quartet in F major, written in 1798/99.
Despite this pastoral key, the music includes the dark sounds of the sad Adagio, as well. Even within the framework of the traditional form, this early Beethoven’s quartet achieves a maximum of moods and stylistic variety.
But Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 131 written in 1826, is generally perceived as a summit within his chamber music, and it is entirely different. It was written in the shadows of the Ninth Symphony, but appears much more experimental than any other chamber music work.
The Op. 131 has seven sections of diverse tone and character, and these movements are played without breaks in between; a brooding Fugue stands alongside a sensitive adagio, a folk tune presto is next to a restless finale.
This work was written for the Viennese violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, whose string quartet group created the professional playing standard for the following 100 years.
The performers are a fairly young Italian group. They play with strong emotion and fine feeling. It is interesting to contrast them with an older, more established group such as the Hagen Quartett of Salzburg, who – in my view – have a more mellow, deeper, darker sound.
Here is the Beethoven String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 18, No. 6, as performed by Quartetto di Cremona:
Tags: Beethoven, Quartets, Op. 18, Op. 131, Cremona String Quartet