Септет для кларнета, валторны, фагота, двух скрипок, альта, виолончели и контрабаса Es-dur, Opus 20

Время создания: вторая половина 1799 года
Посв. императрице Марии Терезии

Венский камерный оркестр

The Septet in E-flat major, Opus 20, by Ludwig van Beethoven, was sketched out in 1799, completed and first performed in 1800 and published in 1802. The score contains the notation: "Der Kaiserin Maria Theresia gewidmet", or translated, "Dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa." It is scored for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. It is in six movements:

1. Adagio - Allegro con brio
2. Adagio cantabile
3. Tempo di minuetto
4. Tema con variazioni: Andante
5. Scherzo: Allegro molto e vivace
6. Andante con moto alla marcia - Presto

The overall layout resembles a serenade and is in fact more or less the same as that of Mozart's string trio, K. 563 in the same key, but Beethoven expands the form by the addition of substantial introductions to the first and last movements and by changing the second minuet to a scherzo. The main theme of the third movement had already been used in Beethoven's Piano Sonata, (Op. 49 No. 2), which was an earlier work despite its higher opus number. The finale features a violin cadenza.

The scoring of the Septet for a single clarinet, horn and bassoon (rather than for pairs of these wind instruments) was innovative. So was the usually prominent role of the clarinet, as important as the violin, quite innovative.

The Septet was one of Beethoven's most successful and popular works and circulated in many editions and arrangements for different forces. In about 1803 Beethoven himself arranged the work as a Trio for clarinet (or violin), cello and piano, and this version was published as his op. 38 in 1805.

Conductor Arturo Toscanini rearranged the string section of the Septet so that it could be played by the full string section of the orchestra, but he did not change the rest of the scoring. He recorded the Septet with the NBC Symphony Orchestra.

One of the last works Beethoven wrote before he became aware of his encroaching deafness, the Septet is a lighthearted work in the spirit of the eighteenth century serenade. Beethoven had it premiered in the same concert in which he unveiled his Symphony No. 1. The Septet was an immediate success, and the composer later expressed a certain resentment toward this work, remarking that it's popularity eclipsed more deserving compositions. Nevertheless, the Septet is an interesting work, filled with youthful energy and containing engaging and attractive solos for the instrumentalists. The first of the work's six movements is a slow and deliberate introduction prefacing a fresh and energetic Allegro con brio. The first subject is carried initially by the violin, then by the clarinet. The second theme brings several other instruments into a dialogue, but is essentially ignored in the development section; after an elaboration of a fragmented version of the first theme, the development section closes in the right key but without a true recapitulation. In the Adagio cantabile, Beethoven shifts to the key of A flat, introducing a tranquil, swaying melody, which the clarinet and violin each play. The other instruments are generally limited to colorful support, except when the horn takes a tentative melodic lead. The Minuet borrows its main theme from Beethoven's Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 49/2 (an earlier work despite its higher opus number). It's a spry tune over a tick-tock accompaniment. As is common in Beethoven's works of this period, the minuet contains two trios, the second pulling its insistent rhythm from the opening material. The fourth movement, an Andante, is a set of variations on the Rhenish folk song "Ach Schiffer, lieber Schiffer." It's yet another lighthearted, bouncy tune, though a curiously unmemorable one; it merely provides Beethoven a suitably-shaped frame on which to hang his own busy melodic excursions and showcase the various instruments of the ensemble. The Scherzo, marked Allegro molto e vivace, is a vigorous piece with a hint of the hunt about it, thanks to the little figure played by the horn at the beginning. The contrasting trio is essentially a tuneful cello solo accompanied by the other strings and bassoon. In the final movement, a slow introduction (Andante con moto alla marcia) sounds almost ominous, with anticipatory material for the horn and violin. Soon this mood is dispelled by an exuberant Presto, in which the forward motion is occasionally interrupted by calm interludes. The movement also features fanfares, prominent solo material, and even a full cadenza for the violin.

(All Music Guide