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CHAMBER MUSIC

Synopsis

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BEETHOVEN’S last Quartets, of which this is one, represent the matured mind of the master at work upon problems of expression in which ho attained heights that no musician had before aspired to reach. We find him, in his search for a deeper, fuller exposition of his thoughts, sometimes adapting and moulding the old forms anew, and even breaking the moulds altogether and creating new ones to hold his ever-widening ideas.
In tho B Flat Quartet, written in 1825, less than two years before his death, there are six Movements, in widely-varying moods ; none of them is obscure, though the music originally written as the Last Movement (a fugue) certainly is. It was later issued as a separate piece, and the present cheerful, straightforward Finale (the last piece of music Beethoven completed) was substituted.
The Movements stand thus :
FIRST MOVEMENT. A quick, vigorous one, with a short, slow Introduction, which recurs several times in the course of the Movement. There is a fine sense of Beethoven's grip and purpose in this Movement.
SECOND MOVEMENT. Presto. A little fireball of a piece; but its fire is inward, rather than showily external.
THIRD MOVEMENT. A slow Movement, a happy blend of lightness of thought and sensibility of feeling.
FOURTH MOVEMENT. Marked Alia danza tedesea—like a German dance. It shows what fancy can do with a simple, waltz-like country dance.
FIFTH MOVEMENT. Cavatina. Tho most deeply-felt piece in the work, tho essence of Beethoven's richness-noble, heart-easing music.
SIXTH MOVEMENT. The gaiety hides some capital science in construction, that musicians like to savour. Everyone enjoys the saucy charm with which Beethoven throws about the bouncing octave figure that lie chucks into the ring like an old hat, at the start of the jollity.

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