Late Beethoven String Quartets

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capnreverb
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Late Beethoven String Quartets

Post by capnreverb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:12 pm

Has anything by anybody even come close? In my opinion, they are the greatest things ever composed. They are the litmus test. You may find a piece here or there you like more, but taken as whole, what comes close? Nothing.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:42 pm

Schubert's late quartets and the string quintet are arguably as good if not superior. Obsessive Beethoven fans may disagree, however.

capnreverb
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Post by capnreverb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:54 pm

I am not an obsessive Beethoven fan, and outside of his late quartets, dont really have much interest in his output .
Schubert has nowhere near the emotional and spiritual complexity of the Late Beethoven S.Q.'s.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Mar 12, 2006 9:56 pm

In your opinion. Others consider that they are the equal of Beethoven's output and amongst the greatest masterpieces ever written. That you don't think so doesn't matter to me and my appreciation of Beethoven as well as Schubert.

capnreverb
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Post by capnreverb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:05 pm

And what would be the the Schubert equal of the Grosse Fugue be? Nothing that Schubert did took 80-100 years for the world to catch up to.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:09 pm

The fugue that Beethoven removed from his 13th qtet? Please, I also enjoy the Grosse Fugue immensely, but Schubert was equalling Beethoven when he died so young, so there is no saying what extraordinary things Schubert may have done given Beethoven's lifespan. The famous pianist, Brendel, says that not a day goes by without him being angry over the early death of Schubert.

No need to dis Schubert in order to love the Grosse Fugue and Beethoven, IMHO. Appreciate each as a musical genius is my preferred approach.

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Post by Harvested Sorrow » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:18 pm

Brendan wrote:Schubert's late quartets and the string quintet are arguably as good if not superior. Obsessive Beethoven fans may disagree, however.
I REALLY need to hear those quartets, then.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:22 pm

May I recommend the Amadeus, Busch and Hollywood quartets in Schubert? Sublime, IMHO. This thread reminds me I'll have to immerse myself in this divine music once more.

capnreverb
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Post by capnreverb » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:24 pm

Brendan wrote:The fugue that Beethoven removed from his 13th qtet? Please, I also enjoy the Grosse Fugue immensely, but Schubert was equalling Beethoven when he died so young, so there is no saying what extraordinary things Schubert may have done given Beethoven's lifespan. The famous pianist, Brendel, says that not a day goes by without him being angry over the early death of Schubert.

No need to dis Schubert in order to love the Grosse Fugue and Beethoven, IMHO. Appreciate each as a musical genius is my preferred approach.
That's B.S. Comparing what he might have done if he had not died with what was done while Beethoven was alive is bunk.

Sure, Charlie Parker may have been even more amazing than Coltrane if he had not died, but.....

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:35 pm

In that case, so was the "80-100 years" malarky. If you want to get all agro about it, fill your boots. You won't change my opinion that way, or those of others who consider Schubert's late quartets the equal of anything.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:08 pm

Brendan wrote:Schubert's late quartets and the string quintet are arguably as good if not superior. Obsessive Beethoven fans may disagree, however.
One does not have to be an "obsessive Beethoven fan" to disagree. Those works by Schubert are great, but the wonder is that he had the self-confidence to compose them in the wake of Beethoven, with whose life he overlapped and in the same city. Brahms, separated by a generation, almost gave in to this kind of anxiety of influence.

What is hard to believe is performers wearing whatever passed for concert dress in 1820 playing those works on old-style violins with catgut strings. Those works seem, to coin a phrase, of no period at all, but for all time.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

ichiro
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Post by ichiro » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:57 am

It is often said that both the late piano sonatas and the quartets of beethoven are part of the same world. A question I have to everyone: is there a quality difference between the quartets and the sonatas?, and if so, please explain to me what the key differences are.

This is a question I have not yet found an answer for, and though I see both the last three sonatas and the late quartets as Beethoven' s pinnacle, I prefer the sonatas more. But again, if someone can expain the differences between the two oevres (ie late piano vs late quartet), please inform me.

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Post by val » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:27 am

All my life I have been living with those masterpieces. I don't see it as obsession but simply the pleasure of the greatest musical beauty ever created by a man (with the late Sonatas, from n. 29 to 32 and the Diabelli Variations).
The Variations of the Adagio of the Quartet opus 127, the Cavatine and the Great Fugue of the opus 130, the Molto Adagio of the opus 132 are the most deep and intense of all musical experiences I ever had. But everything in this masterworks should be mentioned: the Variations of the Andante and the Finale of the opus 131, all the opus 127, the Lento Assai of the opus 135, the first movement of the opus 132 ...

I don't see the need to compare this works with those of Schubert. I love Schubert's chamber music, in special the string Quintet, the 15th Quartet in G major, the 2nd piano Trio, the same way I love the chamber music composed by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Schönberg, only to name the greatest.
But Beethoven remains unique to me.

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Post by DavidRoss » Mon Mar 13, 2006 9:09 am

As a body of work offering consistently reliable nourishment for my soul, the late quartets are unexcelled. They may, however, be equalled by some other extraordinary bodies of work, like the Mozart/daPonte operas, Bach's cello suites, and Sibelius's late symphonies. Mingus's Good-bye, Pork Pie Hat always seems to do it for me, too.
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Post by lmpower » Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:32 pm

I must agree that the late Beethoven quartets are the supreme music of all time. The last four piano sonatas are not far behind. I also enjoy Schubert's last string quartets. I own "death and the maiden" with the Amadeus quartet. I own number 13 with the Lindsay, which I like at least as well. I own number 15 with Kremer, Phillips, Kashkashian and Yo Yo Ma. I realize they are an all star group, but what do you think of their performance?

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Post by Werner » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:49 pm

Reading this thread brings me back to my conviction that trying to rank masterpieces of this sort is futile.

To me, it's simply pointless to try assigning comparative values to such masterpieces as the late quartets (and what about the Schubert String Quintet?) of Beethoven and Schubert - or, for that matter the piano sonatas. Incredibly, both Beethoven and Schubert produced an important body of these, climaxed by the final three. And consider the comment by the pianist Seymour Lipkin in his notes accompanying a recent Schubert sonata series, that there is no late Schubert - how could there be when he only lived thirty-one years? Obviously the fact that Beethoven was able to produce his late great works at a more mature stage influences his works, but does not - in my opinion - diminish Schubert's.

I keep being struck by the way Schubert draws you into his world by his colors, modulations, and rich inwardness. This quality stands by itself and does not need to be compared to anyone. Much the same is true of the specific qualities of Beethoven - or, for that matter, Mozart.
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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:54 pm

I'm not going to try to make comparisons between composers here, but I would disagree that there is no late Schubert. THe C major quintet and a handful of incomparable chamber works that belong with it are precisely works of a late period. Do I have to explain more?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:13 pm

I think the point was that no one can be said to have had a "late" period when in the grave at 31. Had Beethoven died at 31 (only the 1st symphony, no Missa, no Fidelio, no late qtets etc) he may not have been remembered at all. Most of Mozart's greatest masterpieces were between about 28 and 35, so we may perhaps grant Schubert got to what other composers would have considered maturity, perhaps, but no 31 year-old has had a "late" period in their life, even faced with terminal illness. "Late" relative to other Schubert works, perhaps, "late" in terms of greatness of masterpiece, but not an objective "late" period as we mean it for a life lived long, I would say.

Schubert died well before it was possible to have a "late" period, by definition IMHO.

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