Фортепьянный квартет ми-бемоль мажор, Opus 16/b

вариант Квинтета для фортепиано и духовых, Opus 16

1. Grave - Allegro ma non troppo
2. Andante cantabile
3. Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo

Isaac Stern,
Jaime Laredo,
Yo-Yo Ma,
Emanuel Ax

Beethoven's string parts for Op. 16 were published in March, 1801, by Mollo in Vienna simultaneously with the original version for a quintet of piano, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon. Thus, the same piano part is meant to be used for either arrangement. Both versions are dedicated to Prince Joseph Johann zu Schwarzenberg. The piece for piano and winds was first performed on April 6, 1797; it is not known when the version for strings received its premiere. It is best to think of the piece as a work for piano with either strings or winds, neither version being an adaptation of the other.

The original quintet, written while Beethoven was pursuing a concert tour through Prague, Dresden, and Berlin, is for the same instrumentation as a work by Mozart, Quintet for keyboard, oboe, clarinet, horn & bassoon in E flat major, K. 452, prompting a comparison between the two works, unfortunately for Beethoven. The Op. 16 Quartet/Quintet is one of Beethoven's earliest attempts at symphonic composition in a non-symphonic idiom. The result is a rather extravagant work for a small ensemble, although it maintains the typical three-movement format of sonata-type works for chamber ensembles.

The large, dense Grave introduction to the first movement is as substantial as most of the introductions to Haydn's symphonies—the models for Beethoven's slow introductions—and is, to a small extent, integrated into the development section. At this point in his career, Beethoven was already using the compositional technique of realizing the implications of tiny gestures imbedded in the musical fabric. For example, the sudden, unprepared move from G to A flat at the beginning of the development anticipates a false recapitulation in the key of A flat at the midpoint of the section. The actual recapitulation begins significantly later with the main theme is transferred from the piano to the violin.

A combination of rondo and variation form, the harmonically adventurous Andante cantabile movement features an even distribution of material among the instruments. Two episodes, the first beginning on G minor, the second on B flat minor, separate three appearances of the main theme, which is highly decorated upon each of its reprises.

The finale, a rondo in 6/8 meter at an Allegro tempo, provides a light-hearted close to the work. Changes in register, dynamic, and instrumentation mark the various statements of the Rondo theme, which are separated by fragmented episodes featuring athletic piano passages. The balance between instruments Beethoven achieves in the first two movements almost completely disappears in this energetic finale.

(All Music Guide)