"

VISIT WESTCORKMUSIC.IE

LATEST ADDITION TO THE ARCHIVE

Quartet No.10 in E flat Op. 74 'The Harp'

Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)

Chiaroscuro Quartet

Chiaroscuro Quartet

Composer
Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Composition Year
1809
Work Movements
1. Poco adagio - Allegro
2. Adagio ma non troppo
3. Presto
4. Allegretto con variazioni
Artists
Chiaroscuro Quartet (Alina Ibragimova, Pablo Hernán Benedí [violins], Emilie Hörnlund [viola], Claire Thirion [cello]) [quartet]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

The year 1809 was a difficult one for Beethoven. Napoleon's brother Jerome offered him the post of Kapellmeister at Kassel. This caused a panic amongst Beethoven's supporters in Vienna, who quickly put together a rival offer of a lifetime annuity designed to keep him in the city. This was sponsored by the young Archduke Rudolph and Princes Lobkowitz and Kinsky, who agreed that only one who is as free from care as possible can devote himself to a single department of activity and create works of magnitude which are exalted and which ennoble art. Unfortunately this generous grant was immediately undermined by the combination of inflation and the occupation of Vienna by French troops.

We have lately been suffering misery in a most concentrated form. Let me tell you that since 4 May I have produced little coherent work - practically just a fragment here and there. The whole course of events has for me affected both body and soul. What a destructive, disorderly life is here around me, nothing but   drums, cannons, and human misery in every form. So wrote Beethoven to his publisher that July. Instead of composing he began preparing composition teaching material for Archduke Rudolph, who had fled the city. Eventually in August his inspiration was rekindled and he quickly wrote the Harp Quartet, so-called because of the striking pizzicato effects in the first movement. It is noticeable that this serene work carries no trace of the turmoil that Beethoven had been living through.

The contemplative Adagio introduction prepares the way for the superbly confident Allegro, where the famous pizzicati soon make their inspiring appearance. The development centres on a wonderfully exultant treatment of the main theme followed by an extended return to the recapitulation. The composer Robert Simpson gives a vivid description of the extraordinary coda as one of the most original and powerful passages in quartet writing - the first violin breaks out into brilliant bravura as if he were suddenly the soloist in a concerto, and while he lets fly the texture thrillingly deepens and solidifies beneath until the four instruments sound as if the whole world is singing.

The gentle Adagio continues to sing, albeit in a more melancholy fashion. It is an expansive movement with several themes and a drawn out coda that only very reluctantly allows the movement to end. The C minor Scherzo irresistibly reminds us of the same movement in the Fifth Symphony, the memory reinforced by rushing C major trios. The parallel becomes even more striking when the scherzo shows signs of imitating the symphony's famous transition into the finale. However this is just one of Beethoven's jokes and instead of a blazing finale we have a deceptively accented theme followed by six inventive variations and a sudden allegro coda to bring it all to an end. 

FULL DETAILS SEARCH FOR MORE

Quartet No.10 in E flat Op. 74 'The Harp'

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Performance date: Friday 8th July 2016
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

Share on Twitter | Share on Facebook
http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/610

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven (b. 1770 - d. 1827)
Work Title Quartet No.10 in E flat Op. 74 'The Harp'
Composition Year 1809
Work Movements 1. Poco adagio - Allegro
2. Adagio ma non troppo
3. Presto
4. Allegretto con variazioni
Artist(s) Chiaroscuro Quartet (Alina Ibragimova, Pablo Hernán Benedí [violins], Emilie Hörnlund [viola], Claire Thirion [cello]) [quartet]
Performance Date Friday 8th July 2016
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Crespo Series
Duration 00:30:43
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category String Quartet
Instrumentation 2vn, va, vc
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

The year 1809 was a difficult one for Beethoven. Napoleon's brother Jerome offered him the post of Kapellmeister at Kassel. This caused a panic amongst Beethoven's supporters in Vienna, who quickly put together a rival offer of a lifetime annuity designed to keep him in the city. This was sponsored by the young Archduke Rudolph and Princes Lobkowitz and Kinsky, who agreed that only one who is as free from care as possible can devote himself to a single department of activity and create works of magnitude which are exalted and which ennoble art. Unfortunately this generous grant was immediately undermined by the combination of inflation and the occupation of Vienna by French troops.

We have lately been suffering misery in a most concentrated form. Let me tell you that since 4 May I have produced little coherent work - practically just a fragment here and there. The whole course of events has for me affected both body and soul. What a destructive, disorderly life is here around me, nothing but   drums, cannons, and human misery in every form. So wrote Beethoven to his publisher that July. Instead of composing he began preparing composition teaching material for Archduke Rudolph, who had fled the city. Eventually in August his inspiration was rekindled and he quickly wrote the Harp Quartet, so-called because of the striking pizzicato effects in the first movement. It is noticeable that this serene work carries no trace of the turmoil that Beethoven had been living through.

The contemplative Adagio introduction prepares the way for the superbly confident Allegro, where the famous pizzicati soon make their inspiring appearance. The development centres on a wonderfully exultant treatment of the main theme followed by an extended return to the recapitulation. The composer Robert Simpson gives a vivid description of the extraordinary coda as one of the most original and powerful passages in quartet writing - the first violin breaks out into brilliant bravura as if he were suddenly the soloist in a concerto, and while he lets fly the texture thrillingly deepens and solidifies beneath until the four instruments sound as if the whole world is singing.

The gentle Adagio continues to sing, albeit in a more melancholy fashion. It is an expansive movement with several themes and a drawn out coda that only very reluctantly allows the movement to end. The C minor Scherzo irresistibly reminds us of the same movement in the Fifth Symphony, the memory reinforced by rushing C major trios. The parallel becomes even more striking when the scherzo shows signs of imitating the symphony's famous transition into the finale. However this is just one of Beethoven's jokes and instead of a blazing finale we have a deceptively accented theme followed by six inventive variations and a sudden allegro coda to bring it all to an end.