Work

Streichquartett Nr. 11 F-Moll, op 95, op 95 (1810)

Ludwig van Beethoven

string quartet

Movements

  • 1. Allegro con brio
  • 2. Allegretto ma non troppo
  • 3. Allegro assai vivace ma serioso
  • 4. Larghetto espressivo-Allegretto agitato

Program Notes

Beethoven was involved in the string quartet medium troughtout his creative life. He composed 16 string quartets, and these works comprise one of the most remarkable achievements in music history. He began working on his first quartets in 1798.

In 1801, only one year after he finished the Op. 18 Quartets, Beethoven experienced a crisis of tragic proportions: he was becoming deaf. This appears to have been the catalyst that propelled him to creative maturity. As his shift in style asserted itself and the revolutionary advance in his art was consolidated, the symptoms themselves receded for him into a different perspective and were no longer the subject of lamentation. There is a note on one of Beethoven’s sketches for the Op. 59 Quartets which states: «let your deafness no longer be a secret-even in art».

The Quartet in F-minor, Op. 95, is a pivotal work. Last of the five middle-period quartets, it was written in 1810 but not published until 1816. In many ways this piece points directly toward the famous last five quartets, even though a gap of fourteen years separates Op. 95 from Op. 127. As so often in the late quartets, Beethoven here too constructs his work from the tiniest scraps of material, combining and extending these bits in amazing fashion. The Quartet in F-minor Op. 95 is the most concise work in the conventional canon of Beethoven quartets.What makes Op. 95 unique is the way Beethoven suggests the expansive nature of the last quartets within a compact overall structure.

Jacques-André Houle