Beethoven: I thought this was going to kill me

Damian Thompson, in his Spectator podcast, talks to Kansas City’s Opus 76 string quartet about the Thanksgiving slow movement of Beethoven’s opus 132, which they rushed out to play before all the churches closed.

Listen to the wonderful podcast here. It is full of really important analytical insights.

Then go to the breath-taking performance below.

 

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  • Beautiful performance of a beautiful piece. But also a rather strange piece: no chromatics, all entirely normal, ‘conventional’ chords, no frills, no insistent subjectivity, no rhythmic elaborations. And at the end you think you have landed on the main key, but then it appears to be the dominant, because the music ends on the unexpected real key which remains hovering in the air.

    Beethoven was experimenting with the old church modes, but they obtain a different musical meaning in the context of the classical style, they no longer function as in their original context.

    The same dislocation happens, for instance, in Brahms IV, 2nd mvt: it is supposed to be in a medieval mode but ithe key functions quite differently.

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  • “From the heart, may it go to the heart.”
    Incredibly moving.
    With much gratitude to the op. 76 Quartet in Kansas.

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