Jun 6, 2019
I’ve long hesitated to write a show about any of Beethoven’s late string quartets. These are pieces that quartets spend the better part of their careers grappling with, struggling with, failing with, and much more rarely, succeeding with. They are some of the most extraordinary pieces of art ever conceived of. 5 quartets, Opus 127, Opus 130, Opus 131, Opus 132, and Opus 135 - all written near or at the end of Beethoven’s life, these pieces represent the pinnacle of everything Beethoven achieved, yes, even far beyond his symphonies in this conductors opinion. They explore not only every conceivable emotion, but they dig down into the core of those emotions, defiantly refusing to skim the surface and daring to ask and THEN ANSWER the fundamental questions of life and death. Everyone has a favorite Late Beethoven Quartet, but mine has always been Opus 132, and so this week I’m taking the opportunity of getting a Patreon sponsor request from Maria for a piece of chamber music to take the leap myself into Late Beethoven. We’ll discuss Beethoven’s situation as he recovered from a life-threatening illness which he was sure was going to be his end, the unusual 5 movement structure of the piece, and this week, the first two movements of the quartet, the first of which, to me, defines everything that Sonata Form can do to express emotion and a narrative in a piece of absolute music.