Boccherini – String Quintet No. 23 in D Major, Op. 62, No. 5, G. 401
Beethoven – Grosse Fuge in B-flat Major, Op. 133
Schubert – String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Op. 29, D.804 "Rosamunde"
The Sypert Salon Series begins with a program of beloved and technically complex masterpieces. A virtuosic cellist himself, Spanish court composer Luigi Boccherini’s inventive string quintets—he wrote more than a hundred—are a celebration of the cello’s possibilities. The program’s technical demands continue with Beethoven’s immortal Grosse Fuge. Composed in 1825, when the composer was completely deaf, the Grosse Fuge is considered to be one of Beethoven’s finest achievements. The program concludes with Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13. Based on the incidental music Schubert wrote for the play Rosamunde, the quartet’s theme will be familiar to generations of moviegoers, having been featured in films as far-flung as Danny Kaye’s Hans Christian Andersen and last summer’s blockbuster The Avengers.
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Program and Notes
Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
String Quintet No. 23 in D major, Op. 62, No. 5, G. 401
Composed in the latter part of Boccherini's life, this quintet carries a more leisurely style, but with great attention to harmony and rhythm. Boccherini often eschewed formal conventions and traditional tonal schemes and the result is a work that seems more adventurous than the music of his peers, even that of Haydn and Mozart.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Grosse Fuge in B-Flat Major, Op. 133
In the Grosse Fuge Beethoven created a work of such unrepentant complexity and intensity that it took nearly a century for audiences to catch up. Originally conceived as the final movement of his String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130 (written in 1825), critics denounced the work, and following a public debate Beethoven was asked by his publisher to replace the movement from the quartet, a request to which the infamously intractable composer surprisingly relented.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
String Quartet No. 13 in A Minor, Op. 29, D.804 "Rosamunde"
Characteristically Schubert, the String Quartet No. 13 exemplifies the composer’s lyrical gifts and refined, yet stirring musical forms. When Schubert composed the A minor quartet, he was still a young man, but one whose body and mind was being ravaged by syphilis. Although the quartet appears to have emerged unscathed, Schubert’s spirit reached new lows of anguish. In the spring of 1823, at the same time he composed this quartet, he confided to a friend that, “In a word, I'm the most unhappy, most wretched man in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be sound again and who in despair only makes it worse and not better; imagine a man, I say, whose most shining hopes have come to naught, for whom the bliss of love and friendship offers nothing but the greatest pain.”