The Dover Quartet performs Beethoven - Grosse Fuge, in B-flat major, Op. 133
Dover Quartet: Joel Link, violin Bryan Lee, violin Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola Camden Shaw, cello Performed on Monday, September 9, 2013 Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Like J. S. Bach’s Chaconne, Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge (Great Fugue)—originally composed as part of the Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130—lives in the pantheon of Western music, revered by musicologists, performers, and audiences alike. Composed in 1825 when Beethoven was completely deaf and a mere three years before his death, the work can be seen as the composer’s unfiltered genius spilling onto the page, revealing his profoundly complex inner world. However, unlike Bach’s Chaconne,which was already being praised for its genius and humanity by the early 19th century, Beethoven’s colossal double fugue took the longer road to stardom. “Repellent” and “incomprehensible” were common phrases used by the work’s detractors, viewing the performers more as victims martyred at the thorny hands of Beethoven. The feedback was so intensely negative that Beethoven wrote a new finale to the Op. 130 quartet and published the Grosse Fuge separately in 1827 as Op. 133—one of the few times he ever bowed to such pressure. It would take roughly a century for critical and public opinion to come around. What had once been labeled as the incoherent ramblings of an old master was eventually accepted as one of the most revolutionary and forward-thinking contributions to music. Igor Stravinsky praised it as “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.” The Grosse Fuge is indeed unrelenting, introspective, and dissonant. And few performers would dispute that it is among the most difficult works, not just of Beethoven but of any composer. But great challenge brings great reward, perhaps none greater than spending time in Beethoven’s own private world.
Artists Dover Quartet
Composers Ludwig van Beethoven
Works GROSSE FUGE IN B-FLAT MAJOR, OP. 133
Instruments Cello, Viola, and Violin
Recorded Date 09-09-2013