November 10, 2012

MISCHIEF FOR FOUR:

Belcea Quartet Plays Beethoven At Carnegie Hall (TOM HUIZENGA, 11/07/12, NPR)

This concert is one of three the ensemble is presenting at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. They focus on Beethoven's final quartets -- among the most personal, enigmatic and powerfully forward-thinking pieces in his output. In the late quartets, the idea of the string quartet became whatever Beethoven wanted it to be.

The Op. 127 Quartet in E-flat, heard in this concert, might be laid out in the traditional four movements, but the piece has the weight and the length of a massive symphonic statement.

The Op.130 Quartet in B-flat, constructed as a light-hearted serenade in six movements, feels more like a raw, intimate communication -- like a late night phone call from a troubled friend. In the Cavatina, Beethoven instructs the first violinist to play as if "choked up" (beklemmt). And even the momentary rays of sunlight in the preceding German dance are somehow veiled.

The quartet originally ended with a muscular, unprecedented 15-minute fugue (known as the "Grosse Fuge") that Chorzelski calls "a nuclear explosion, aimed at threatening the very idea of structure and gravity." Beethoven's publisher forced him to write a substitute finale and released the fugue as a separate piece. But even that more docile ending, Chorzelski told ClassicalSource.com, is filled with mischief.
Posted by at November 10, 2012 8:36 AM
  
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