Время создания: 1798-1800 гг.
Посв. князю Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz, 1798
2. Menuetto - Trio
3. Andante cantabile con variazioni
The fifth quartet of Op. 18, in A major, is clearly modeled on Mozart's quartet in the same key, K. 464. Just as his predecessor had done, Beethoven composed a slow movement in theme and variation form, and placed it third in the overall scheme. Offbeat accents propel the main theme of the first movement forward until it reaches the dominant, at which point Beethoven, as in Op. 18, No. 1, flirts with the minor dominant (E minor).
Despite its numbering, this quartet was probably the fourth of the six that comprise Beethoven's Opus 18 set, dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz. The composer reordered the entire group upon its completion in 1800. The musicologist Brandenburg claimed that the chronological order of the six works was 3, 1, 2, 5, 4, and 6. Beethoven's rearranging was logical, based apparently on the character of the quartets. In general, the first three (in the final numbering) are fairly faithful to Classical forms, while the second three tend to be unorthodox and somewhat experimental. In certain respects, the latter trio of quartets might be viewed as a significant part of the composer's transition to the methods and styles of his so-called middle period.
The String Quartet No. 5's first movement, marked Allegro, opens with a theme that is more than vaguely Mozartean. But much of the music here is also reminiscent of parts of Beethoven's own Sonata for Violin & Piano No. 2 in A major, Op. 12/2 (1797-1798), written in the same key. The main theme is joyous and the mood optimistic, though the second subject contains material that is a bit more serious. The development section is noteworthy for what it mostly lacks—development. Only the latter half contains substantive development, but in a manner that looks backward in style, or, rather, aims toward the simple. The recapitulation includes some delightful changes in the material.
The second-movement Menuetto features an attractive, lively dance theme whose simplicity is beguiling for its grace and subtle character. If the first movement stands as the least progressive panel in this work, then the trio of this Menuetto may be the most advanced. Yet, it too, is rather simple, and more than one commentator has heard in it a foreshadowing of the music of Schubert. Beethoven puts on display some interesting canonic writing when the main dance melody returns. The next movement is marked Andante cantabile, and its Mozartean character has often been noted. Mozart's Quartet in A, K. 464, has been cited as the work Beethoven chose as a model, and the corresponding movements in that work divulge many similarities with the third and fourth movements here. Beethoven presents a simple slow theme and follows with five variations. As suggested above, the finale, too, is indebted to Mozart. Indeed, Beethoven borrows a theme, placing it near the end of the development section. But "imitation" would be too strong a word to use in describing the relationship between the two composers' music in the finale. In fact, the main themes clearly come from the pen of Beethoven, and the development section, muscular and anxious, is also easily recognized as his, despite the thematic foray into Mozart's world. This Allegro movement features a recapitulation and closes with an attractive coda.
A typical performance of the quartet lasts around a half hour.
(All Music Guide)