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Beethoven Op 130


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Showing 26-50 of 73 posts in this discussion
Posted on Nov 27, 2012 12:58:52 PM PST
Dichterliebe says:
Ken, I've seen this operatic connection before (though I've not read Cooper's specific quote) but the music has never struck me as 'operatic' in the sense I know it (the dramatic stage, the 'expressive operatic aria', etc.). It is song-like, certainly, but I'm not sure I can jump to the conclusion that Beethoven was trying to evoke (parody) the stage. Perhaps he was but it doesn't sound that way to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:02:58 PM PST
KenOC says:
"So what are you saying, that it's an incoherent hotch potch of diverse bits of music?"

No, that's the Op. 131. In Beethoven's words to his publisher, "rustled together from various odds and ends." ;-)

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 1:07:31 PM PST
Dichterliebe says:
Mandryka, I made the comparison to op. 110 but I find it untenable because the two works are so different and the combinations of song and fugue (though both imply an inner drama -- one being self-contained [with the exception of the linking note], the other cumulative) are formally so unalike. Whereas op. 110 is much more explicit (particularly in its use of recitative), op. 130 is, to me, a passing reference and music that defies convention.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 1:12:21 PM PST
Mandryka says:
Very refreshing to get such an interesting discussion so quickly -- thanks everyone (I'm out now for the evening!)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:35:05 PM PST
DavidRFoss says:
KenOC says:
No, that's the Op. 131. In Beethoven's words to his publisher, "rustled together from various odds and ends." ;-)
---------------
I'm open to not taking works so seriously all the time, but that's not how I've interpreted some of these many-movement quartets.

As I see it, many of the shorter movements act like brief intermezzos between two other movements or introductions to the next movement or sometimes even act as like "palate cleansers" to give the listener some time to adjust in between the longer movements.

Op. 132:IV Alla marcia is clearly a palate cleanser. You wouldn't want to jump straight from the long emotional Dankgesang to the finale.

Op. 130 II and IV also act like short palate cleansers. You could imagine the quartet as either 1-3-5-6 or 1-3-5-GF but it would be much more exhausting.

Op. 131 is a bit more complex. III clearly acts as the introduction to IV and VI is clearly the introduction to VII. Then there are two scherzo's of which V is the more weighty and II could be considered a palate cleanser. You could envision a four movement which goes 1-4-5-7.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:39:39 PM PST
KenOC says:
David, B's publisher didn't get the joke and was a bit worried. B had to write him a week later to explain "No, I was just kidding, it's all new stuff."

BTW I've seen exactly your analysis of the Op. 131 elsewhere, so you're not alone!

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 2:00:18 PM PST
When i think of the term 'Cavatina' i think of piece that's mainly melodic statement without development. Here is a beautiful rendition:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSnhA57iSPQ
The 'beklemmt' violin affectation is done wonderfully well here.
The Elias youtube video illustrates the acoustic problems with the Fugue perfectly. The violinist says as much by her statement that you can't think of the textures in terms of a hierarchy, but rather of each instrument struggling to get through. She's right, and I would argue that this is antithetical to chamber textures, and unrealizable in performance. The players simply cannot blend their sound.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 2:10:08 PM PST
KenOC says:
"I would argue that this is antithetical to chamber textures, and unrealizable in performance. The players simply cannot blend their sound."

Well it sounds good -- if that's the right word -- to me! BTW I liked what you wrote about the replacement finale. Beethoven's last completed movement, original, fresh, and a total romp. Haydn on steroids. It caps the quartet very well and (always a plus) sends 'em home happy. I cringe wheneveer I see some critic writing as if it's some minor and inferior piece...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 2:31:56 PM PST
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Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:00:29 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 27, 2012 10:01:28 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:02:44 PM PST
Mandryka says:
Oh yes, weight. I understand now. I didn't last night. My fault. Sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 10:21:56 AM PST
Thanks. The Fugue is a magnificent piece and a major milestone in Western music. There is much to admire and love about it. However, I really do think that it transcends chamber textures and presents textural issues for the players that are unfixable. Maybe LvB, in his inspired state of mind, thought it would be possible to overcome those problems through super-human effort (not an uncommon thread in his late works) or just sheer force of will; but when he came down from the heights of inspiration, he must have realized he went too far. The replacement finale is more than adequate compensation!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 11:17:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2012 8:38:36 AM PST
The Tokyo String Quartet has talked about which ending of the Op 130 to play.

---from the notes to the RCA Tokyo Quartet box of the late quartets (recorded in Princeton 1990-1991):

"Which version should a modern quartet play both to respect the composer's wishes and to make the musical statement the quartet itself prefers? After years of playing both endings, the Tokyo Quartet has a definite opinion:

Kikuei Ikeda: "We have tried it both ways. The more we play it, the more strongly we feel that the Grosse Fuge has to be the last movement".

Sadao Harada: "Each movement of the quartet has its own very strong character, forming a chain of contrasts. The first movement, with its constrasting tempos, is itself a study in contrasts; and not only is the pacing of the tempos in that movement important, but it leads to the whole chain of contrasts between the movements".

Peter Oundjian: "The greatest contrast of all comes between the Cavatina and the last movement---whichever one you choose. For us, the Rondo has a feeling of apology, almost---but when we're doing the Rondo we feel that we're playing a divertimento type of piece, and that the last movement is another dance movement---when we're playing it with the Fugue, there's almost a sense of anticipation in these divertimento movements, and the Cavatina shines like a jewel---something perfect and quite simple, but opening the door for the huge statement to be made at the end. What comes before, the middle movements, isn't as profound, but they too are leading up to the finale. When you play the Rondo, you have to make more of the middle movements".

Sadao Harada: "Either way, how do you get out of the emotional state of the Cavatina is the key to me. I feel, when I'm playing the Cavatina, that the sense of divertimento is already done; to return to the dance of the Rondo afterward is very difficult".

My own reaction to this: Mr Oundjian seems to be as formative as anybody I've heard:

"When you play the Rondo, you have to make more of the middle movements".

I think that's pivotal. And to me it means: It's not enough for a quartet to record the Op 130 with the 1826 ending and then record the GF and put it on the same CD---so that the listener can choose which ending to hear. In live performances, the musicians apparently don't do that. They decide in advance which ending to play---and then they play the OTHER (!) movements accordingly.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 9:02:34 PM PST
M. You says:
I'm with Joseph Kerman on this: "with the fugue, the previous movements seem to be rendered insignificant; but without the fugue, the work as a whole seems insignificant" or something along those lines. I do prefer to listen to the whole work, however - even if the previous movements are rendered insignificant by the entrance of the fugue, the greatness of the fugue is felt all the more strongly by it "wiping out" (also from Kerman) the previous movements.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 10:28:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 10:29:50 PM PST
Mandryka says:
So I guess their RCA record is played with the Fugue in mind, not the alternative finale.

There are some interesting ideas there, the first movement as a sequence of contrasts, for example. Thanks for posting it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 11:42:31 PM PST
Yes, apparently so. On the CD, the GF is track 6, and the 1826 ending is track 7. I would have to think that the first five movements (tracks 1-5) were played anticipating the GF to follow the Cavatina. I think it was bold and courageous of them to follow through on their evolving convictions.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 4:45:22 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 5:34:41 AM PST
Mandryka says:
In fact on the earliest records from the Juilliard they don't play the fugue at all, that was how it was on the 1963 RCA recording which set me off thinking about this.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 5:39:24 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 5:47:34 AM PST
march says:
>>Artemis Quartet (their cycle does not even include the Alt. Finale as far as I can tell)<<

I own the complete box and I can confirm that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 7:17:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 7:20:22 AM PST
March, I think you have a point. The idea of playing the GF as the finale of the Op 130 seems to have gained traction perhaps during the last 40 or 50 years---but was rarely done previously.

From John Burk's 1943 Beethoven bio: "D'Indy has argued for the restoration of the fugue to its proper position, from which it was ousted by the pressure of others, on the grounds that it is a blood relative to the earlier movements---the first movement in particular. Courageous players have on occasion so performed the Quartet. The stand is arguable...".

I looked at the Hungarian Quartet's first set (EMI, 1953). The GF is on CD 5. The Op 130 (with the 1826 ending) is on CD 6! At least the CDs are in the same box. There is little doubt the Quartet did not play the GF as the finale.

And Mandryka notes that the 1963 Juilliard set doesn't include the GF at all.

In some article or book I read years ago---and cannot identify---someone wrote this: "Of the Great Fugue we can venture no opinion, as it is never played". That may well have been the prevailing attitude of the 19th century.

The Wiki article "Grosse Fuge" has its share of semi-wrong ideas about Beethoven (how he was "completely" deaf in 1825; how he had distain for popular opinion; how stubborn he was) but does have this to say: "During the 20th century, quartets came to play Op. 130 with the original Große Fuge finale. Opinion today is decisively in favor of using the fugue; most musicians would agree that the quartet is stronger in its original form.[11]".

The amazing thing for us is that we can have our cake and eat it too. Previous generations did not have that option.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 10:11:20 AM PST
KenOC says:
One thing to consider: If the quartet is recorded with the alternate finale, there's no problem including the Op. 133 separately. OTOH if it's recorded with the fugue, the "authorized" finale is more difficult to include unless the entire quartet is recorded twice.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 10:19:20 AM PST
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Posted on Nov 29, 2012 10:21:45 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 10:27:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 10:28:44 AM PST
KenOC says:
March, yes... But I was more thinking of the LP days, when tracks were a bit harder to program! And even with CDs, I happily admit I have no idea how to program my player.... But iPod to the rescue, I just keep two playlists of every Op. 130 I have.

Anyway, ALL of this presupposes that you can simply attach the finale you want to the rest of the quartet, something that had been cogently argued against above.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  73
Initial post:  Nov 27, 2012
Latest post:  Apr 12, 2013

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