I am a huge fan of Beethoven’s chamber music. And recordings that combine his early quartets with the very late quartets written shortly before he died create exciting lessons in Beethoven’s musical development.
Now there is a new recording by the Quartetto Di Cremona that does just that.
Beethoven: Complete String Quartets Volume 6
String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 No. 5
String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130
Performed by the Quartetto di Cremona
Both of these compositions reveal how Beethoven incorporated folk music into his own works; however, in all other aspects the styles of these two string quartets could not be more different.
Early and late – with Beethoven this always implies developing questions and expanding compositional ideas. In the case of the works recorded here, we hear the A major Quartet from the Op. 18 set and the B-flat major Quartet, Op. 130. In both the focus is on folk music and its integration into Beethoven’s music.
The variations on a simple theme in the Andante of the Quartet Op. 18 No. 5 represent such a case of looking towards popular music, as also does the “Alla danza tedesca” from the late Quartet Op. 130, where the rhythm and character of the good old German dance is alienated to such an extent that it seems to appear as a distant recollection, more than as an actual dance.
During the early 1800’s music lovers were delighted to find so soon after Mozart’s death that Beethoven might replace the sorely missed music of Mozart. But Beethoven gradually departed from his initial path, insisted on cutting a new one, and finally went on his own creative journey.
Here is the Quartet Op. 18 number 5 by Beethoven: