Sunday, 16 November 2008

195. Ludwig van Beethoven - String Quartets, op. 59, "Razumovsky" (1806)


Title: Op. 59 Nos. 1-3 "Razumovsky"
Performers: The Lindsays
Year: 1984
Length: 1 hour 30 minutes


Beethoven produces these three quartets inspired by Russian themes at the suggestion of his patron who also gives the title to the quartets. I am not a particular fan of string quartets in general, I much prefer choral, vocal, orchestral or solo work to string quartets, don't ask me why... it's just the way I am. Chamber music in general leaves me a bit cold, there are, of course, exceptions.

However, these are some innovative pieces of work. They sound very unlike any other string quartet we have had up until now, including the previous ones by Beethoven. Since the last Beethoven quartets we have had here he has developed his own particular style and that is very noticeable here.

The use of Russian folk themes is one of the interesting things about these quartets, but this should not occlude the other movements in the three quartets which are equally as good if not better than the movements in the first and second quartet directly inspired by Russian themes. So yeah, pretty good quartets, even if I am not a big fan of the genre.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

A peculiarity of the Razumovsky set of quartets is that Beethoven uses a characteristically "Russian" theme in the first two quartets in honor of the prince who gave him the commission. In opus 59 no. 1, the "Thème russe" is the principal theme of the last movement; in opus 59 no. 2, the "Thème russe" is in the "B" section of the third movement, the scherzo (and happens to be a tune which Mussorgsky also used in Boris Godunov). In the quartet opus 59 no. 3, there is no "Thème russe" explicitly called out in the score, but many commentators have heard a "Russian" character in the subject of the second movement, the Andantino.

New Zealand string quartet plays the first movement of the second quartet:

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