Ludwig van Beethoven who lived from 17 December 1770 till 26 March 1827)was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music. His works rank amongst the most performed of the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods. The “early” period, during which he forged his craft, is typically considered to have lasted until 1802. From 1802 to around 1812, his “middle” period showed an individual development from the “classical” styles of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is sometimes characterized as “heroic”. During this time, he began to suffer increasingly from deafness. In his “late” period from 1812 to his death in 1827, he extended his innovations in musical form and expression.
Ludwig von Beethoven’s String Quartet No.10 in E flat major, Op 74, was written in 1809 and later as many of the nicknames of his work was named “Harp” by a publisher.
The work dates back to the Summer 1809, when Beethoven was madly in love with Therese Malfatti, to whom he would soon proposed, and such proposal would be refused.
That year was a disaster in many respects: Haydn had died earlier that year, a few weeks after Napoleon’s troops invaded Vienna. The economy was unstable. There were turbulent times indeed. Misery scuttered all over the country. His body and soul were also affected consequently. He couldn’t put together anything for 6 months long after 10 the most productive years of his life. Whatever he tried to write was in E flat major – the key of sadness and elegy. He completed in this E-flat key: Piano Sonata “Les Adieux” (”The Farewell”); his “Empire Piano Concerto”; his string quartet No. 10 Op.74, later subtitled “Harp”. It may be the less known String quartet of him, but it is one of the most emotional Beethoven’s ever composed.
This quartet is wholly beautiful, almost impressionistic in an approach of sonority and diabolical for its character.
It starts with Introduction “Poco Adagio” – so uncertain and with a little mystery, it sounds as a fervent confirmation and very intimate.
The subsequent chapter “Allegro”, which contains the harp imitations pizzicati, is an intensely personal statement in which the dynamic initial impulses are constantly transformed into a dreamy romantic realm. Together it is of about ten minutes duration, is one of the best examples of Beethoven’s management of musical tension.
The second movement, ‘’Adagio ma non troppo’’ was described by anonymous critic in 1811 as a “sombre nocturne” (dunkles Nachtstück).
The cantabile melody of holly sober sweetness sets the gentle elegiac tone for this chapter. Further the melody reverts to the main mode twice, each time more richly embellished than before. The movement ends with a pair of heart breaking espressivo-moredno (expressing dying) chords.
The fiercely dramatic C-minor “Presto” (Beethoven would avoid calling it “scherzo”) a brusque, sharp, muscular, stabbing chapter of music, and sounds like a return to the life. The tremendous momentum suggests a tarantella, a leaping gypsy dance, perhaps even something Russian.
The middle section, “Trio”, – in C major, is even faster and reaches a quasi prestissimo speed.
As in many scherzos of Beethoven’s middle period, the ”Trio” appears twice and the “Scherzo” itself three times, resulting in Scherzo-Trio-Scherzo-Trio-Scherzo scheme.
Without a break, a mysterious transition leads to the final movement “Allegretto con variazioni”, a set of ornamental variation on a theme suggesting a love song. At least, the outline of the theme appears in one of Beethoven’s sketches for a love song (which, however, was not completed in that form). In the course of the variations, the melody is surrounded by virtuoso figurations and subjected to a series of ingenious transformations. The movement culminates in an exuberant, but rather short, coda at an even faster pace.
What is not to love about the elusive “Harp” quartet?
The Quartet consists of 4 movements:
- Poco adagio – Allegro
- Adagio ma non troppo
- Allegretto con variazioni
The Beethoven String Quartet No 10 is a beautiful written and somewhat concealed composition written in 1809 and brought to you by INGUZ Quartet in the year of Beethoven’s 250th birthday celebration as a tribute to his music.
The composition has been recorded during December 2020 at the WestVest church in the Netherlands using a Blumlein microphone setting using 2 AKG C 414 XLII microphones and an array of Neumann KM184 microphones at 4-meter height to record the tonal characteristics of the church.
This part only for RTR buyers:
The reel-to-reel tape experience is a very special one, as it has a greater dynamic range than vinyl and it is capable of producing giving that warm feeling experience due to the extraordinary sound for high and low tones. It also has always a bit of a noise floor as it is analog technology that we use.
We give a 100% guarantee that the recording is fully analog with no digital processing at all. Each tape will be signed and will have a personal note to you as well as a booklet made during the process of recording and in which the musicians will be further introduced as well as the composition to make this tape a very personal purchase.
Tape recording process:
- Label: JBRDG
- Recorder used is a Stellavox SP8
- Format: reel-to-reel, 15 ips, ¼” 2 track stereo at 10.5” NAB reels, CCIR (CCIR equalization with reference level 320 nWb/m on halftrack ¼”) or NAB equalization on your choice
- Tape RTM LPR 90, SM900 or SM468