Фуга для струнного квинтета D-dur, Opus 137

Время создания: 1817 г.

Венский камерный оркестр

The Fugue for String Quintet in D major, Op. 137, was completed on November 28, 1817, not long after Beethoven had begun composition of the "Hammerklavier" Sonata, Op. 106. Beethoven composed the Op. 137 quintet for a complete edition in manuscript of his work, begun in 1817 by Tobias Haslinger but never finished. The Fugue was finally published in 1827 by Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig.

Fugues were of particular interest to Beethoven at the time. Concerning the Op. 137 quintet, the composer once told a friend: "To make a fugue requires no particular skill, in my study days I made dozens of them. But the fancy wishes also to assert its privileges, and today a new and really poetical element must be introduced into the old traditional form." Mixed among the sketches for the Op. 137 fugue are excerpts from fugues by J. S. Bach and others. It is probably safe to say that Beethoven realized his ideal in the first movement of the String Quartet No. 14, Op. 131, which was still several years away. The Fugue for String Quintet is probably best viewed as an experiment in contrapuntal writing.

Marked Allegretto and in 3/8 time, the quintet is scored for two violins, two violas, and one cello. Despite the octave leaps in the first measure, the three-measure subject has a very narrow range. The answers, all tonal, appear at three-measure intervals and are at either a fourth or an octave. After five entries, the exposition of the fugue is complete and the traditional Baroque alternation of episodes and subject entries begins. What is most impressive about the piece is that every one of the subject entries, and they occur often in the first part of the piece, is accompanied in nearly every one of the other voices by a fragment from the subject, either in its original form or in inversion. The contrapuntal intensity relaxes for a moment in the center of the piece before a stretto passage built on the subject greatly thickens the texture and pushes toward a quiet close.

(All Music Guide)