Струнный квартет №16 фа мажор, Op. 135

Время создания: лето-октябрь 1826
Посвящен: Johann Nepomuk Wolfmayer

Квартет состоит из 4-х частей:
1. Allegretto
2. Vivace
3. Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
4. “Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß (The difficult decision).” Grave, ma non troppo tratto (Muss es sein?/Must it be?) — Allegro (Es muss sein!/It must be!) — Grave, ma non troppo tratto — Allegro

Квартет имени Бородина: Рубен Агаронян (1-я скрипка), Андрей Абраменков (2-я скрипка), Игорь Найдин (альт), Валентин Берлинский (виолончель). 2005 Chandos Records

The String Quartet No. 16 in F major, op. 135, by Ludwig van Beethoven was written in October 1826[1] and was the last substantial work he finished. Only the last movement of the Quartet op. 130, written as a replacement for the Große Fuge, was written later. The op. 135 quartet was premiered by the Schuppanzigh Quartet in March 1828.

The work is on a smaller scale than his other late quartets. For the third movement, Beethoven used variation techniques; he also did this in the second movement of his Quartet op. 127. Under the introductory slow chords in the last movement Beethoven wrote in the manuscript "Muß es sein?" (Must it be?) to which he responds, with the faster main theme of the movement, "Es muß sein!" (It must be!)1. The whole movement is headed "Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß" ("The Difficult Decision").

Beethoven wrote the bulk of this, his final quartet, in a two-month burst of activity amid health problems and shortly after his nephew Karl attempted to commit suicide. But there's not a hint of self-pity or anguish in this compact, good-natured work. For Beethoven's valedictory composition, this quartet is surprisingly small-scaled, finding inspiration in the quartets of Beethoven's one-time teacher Haydn. The first movement, Allegretto, takes standard sonata form. Its principal theme in 2/4 hints at a march; this, the light textures, and Beethoven's reliance on very short phrases give the movement a playful nature that is emphasized by Beethoven's abrupt melodic and harmonic shifts and frequent interruptions in mid-phrase.

Beethoven carries this unpredictability over to the second movement, Vivace, which is a scherzo and trio. Again, the overall format is traditional, but the movement abounds in rhythmic asymmetry disrupting the basic 3/4 meter, as well as suddenly modulating chromatic harmonies and melodies being gagged at inopportune moments. It's one of the most comic creations in Beethoven's chamber music. In deep contrast is the slow movement, Lento assai cantante e tranquillo. This is a D flat major theme with four variations; variety and development come more through harmonic coloring than motivic manipulation. The second variation slips into a dark C sharp minor, the only spot in this work where listeners obsessed with music as autobiography might find a reflection of Beethoven's troubled life. The third variation returns to the major key for a quiet treatment of the theme in canon between the first violin and cello, and the fourth toys with rhythmic details without disrupting the music's serenity.

The finale initially seems to be a great, tragic utterance; Beethoven casts the introduction, Grave ma non troppo tratto, in F minor. At the head of the score Beethoven has written, in German, "The difficult decision," and next to the tempo indication are the words "Muss es sein?" (Must it be?). The cello and viola seem to be asking that question in the introduction, but soon the music breaks into an F major Allegro; here, Beethoven has written "Es muss sein!" (It must be!). Those three syllables form the rhythmic basis of the main theme, and seem to be inspired by an exchange between Beethoven and a friend regarding payment of money. The movement proceeds according to sonata structure, spirits remaining high right through the whimsical pizzicato passage that leads to the affirmative final bars.

(All Music Guide)

Opus 135 is the last string quartet which Beethoven composed. He completed it in October 1826 at his brother Johann's estate in Gneixendorf near Krems. The Berlin music publisher Schlesinger had commissioned the string quartet. In 1819 he had got into closer contact with the composer and from 1821 onwards had kept on at him for new quartets or quintets. The contract with the publisher from 4 September 1825 had specified that Beethoven was to write two quartets. Schlesinger received the String Quartet op. 132 at the end of 1825; the composer still owed the publisher another one.

It is not surprising that Beethoven completed the Quartet op. 135 in the country. He felt happy outside the city and drew strength and inspiration from the countryside around him. On 13 October 1826 he wrote to Schlesinger, "At last I was able to move here to the countryside; a true recovery for me, as I was obliged to spend this summer in the city. (?) I have lost the tiredness of the city and feel refreshed again." (BGA 2222).
Beethoven had literally fled to Gneixendorf, after he had had a truly awful summer. Usually he left the city in August at the latest. In 1826 this was not possible: his beloved nephew Karl, whose guardian he was, had attempted suicide on 6 August. The exact reasons are not known, although Karl might have had gambling debts. The strained relationship with his uncle, who exercised an incredible amount of pressure on his nephew, might also have contributed to it. His nephew's suicide attempt was a catastrophe for Beethoven and the total failure of their relationship, in which he had set such high hopes. At first Karl did not appear to want to see his uncle in the hospital, they both only came together again with great effort.

On 25 September Karl was discharged from hospital. After several legal issues had been resolved - attempted suicide was a criminal offence - and Karl's future had been cleared up (he decided upon a career in the military), on 28 September Beethoven decided to accept his brother Johann's invitation and went to Gneixendorf with his nephew. Once there he was looked after, was able to relax and digest the shock of the past weeks. The String Quartet op. 135, his last great composition, was completed on 30 October 1826, according to the inscription on the autograph parts.

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