Август-сентябрь 1826 года
Посвящено эрцгерцогу Рудольфу Австрийскому
Jörg Demus и Norman Shetler, фортепиано
On 21 March 1826 Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major op. 130 was given its first performance, with a great fugue as the last movement. It was especially this final movement that proved difficult for his contemporaries to understand - too difficult as the publisher Mathias Artaria explained to the composer. Although the parts had already been prepared for printing, in September 1826 Artaria suggested "removing" the fugue and printing it separately. And Beethoven should write a new last movement for op. 130. Beethoven agreed surprisingly quickly, the new finale was composed in autumn 1826.
The fugue was published with the opus number 133. Beethoven had already given some thought to the formulation of the title "Grande fuge, tantôt libre, tantôt recherchée" in December 1826 (when he was already bedridden). Parallel to the original version for string quartet, Artaria also planned an arrangement for piano four hands. The publisher believed that this would make the work more accepted and better understood - and also therefore better sales. Beethoven was also in agreement with this suggestion. Artaria commissioned the pianist Anton Halm to arrange the fugue as early as April 1826. However, the result did not please the composer at all. As a result Carl Czerny was considered as an arranger but then also discarded. Although Beethoven had first of all strictly refused to do so, he finally decided to do his own arrangement. At the beginning of September he handed over his version of the Große Fuge for Piano Four Hands, to be handed on to the publisher. The canon "Da ist das Werk, sorgt für das Geld" ("Here is the work, give me the money") WoO 197 which he sent with it, underscored the autonomous nature of this version.
Both the original version for string quartet as well as the arrangement for piano appeared at the same time in May 1827.
This is an arrangement of the Op. 133 Grosse Fuge. This great work, scored for string quartet, began its musical life as the finale of the B flat Quartet, No. 13, but was withdrawn after its first performance on March 21, 1826, at the behest of Beethoven's publisher and others. There were complaints about the work's difficulties for both the players and public. A new finale was composed for the B flat Quartet and the now-orphaned Grosse Fuge was given a separate opus number (133).
Beethoven was only too aware of the high artistic quality of the Grosse Fuge and decided to arrange it for piano, four-hands. Probably his decision was prompted in part by the fact that the piano could easily delineate the fugal qualities of the work. There can be little challenge that inner voices and main lines can be heard in proper balance a bit more clearly in a keyboard rendering of such a composition. But he had to be all too aware that to reduce the sustaining sounds of the two violins, viola and cello to the non-sustaining tones of the piano would involve some problematic reductions of themes and harmonies, and involve many other adjustments, as well.
While this version of the Grosse Fuge cannot stand up to the original for string quartet, mainly because Beethoven could not adequately solve all the problems arising in the transcription process, this work is still an excellent arrangement of music that adapts surprisingly well. Nevertheless, many will regard this effort as a curiosity of no great significance in the composer's output.
This work was first published in Vienna in 1827.
(Robert Cummings, Rovi)