Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist. For many people he is the defining figure in the history of Western music. He was certainly a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music. Beethoven’s innovative compositions combined vocals and instruments and he widened the scope of the sonata, the symphony, the concerto and the string quartet. To this day Beethoven remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers and many of his works are very popular both as concert pieces and as recordings.
Haydn is often thought of as the ‘father’ of the string quartet and the form was further developed by Mozart. However it was Beethoven who, in writing his 16 String Quartets, completely transformed the medium. He composed his string quartets in three fairly distinct blocks: Nos. 1 – 6, the ‘Early’ Quartets, when he was around 27-30 years of age, Nos. 7 – 11, the ‘Middle’ Quartets, when he was 35-40 and Nos. 12 – 16, the ‘Late’ Quartets, in the final three years of his life.
We have chosen to include in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 ‘Rasumovsky No. 1’ in our collection of masterworks. Beethoven’s Op. 59, No. 1 in F Major, curiously shares the same key as his first string quartet, Op. 18, No. 1, and his very last quartet, Op. 135 and it is also the key of the luxurious Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 ‘Pastoral’. These varied works share a warmth, a feeling of well-being and a sense of grandeur that links them even across vast expanses of Beethoven’s musical journey.
The String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 ‘Rasumovsky No. 1’ is composed in four movements:
II. Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando
III. Adagio molto e mesto
IV. Thème russe. Allegro
in which the final movement follows directly on from the third being linked by a segue: a little musical bridge.
We have chosen to add a finely controlled, well paced and impeccably balanced performance by the Takács Quartet that has been expertly recorded in St George’s, Bristol by Andrew Keener. This is one of the finest quartet recordings in our collection.