Magazine article Strings

Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 18, Nos. 1-6

Magazine article Strings

Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 18, Nos. 1-6

Article excerpt

Beethoven: String Quartets, Op. 18, Nos. 1-6. (Study Score). Urtext, edited by Jonathan Del Mar. Barenreiter Classics. Published by BSrenreiter, euro 24.95. www.baerenrelter.com

Beethoven's Six String Quartets, Op. 18, were published in 1801 in two groups of three, but only the parts; a score was not printed until 1829. The autograph has not survived, but In 1988 a previously unknown manuscript of 1800 was discovered, and it is access to this new source that gives Barenreiter's urtext a unique authenticity.

Carefully edited, this edition has a scholarly "Introduction and Preface." Unfortunately, the "Critical Commentary" to which it constantly refers the reader for comparison between the two readings is not included and must be purchased separately (BA 9016 40).

Barenreiter's editors also consulted Beethoven's sketchbooks to establish the order in which the quartets were written. Number 3 was started in 1798, followed by No. 1. Nos. 2 and 5 were composed in 1799. Due to a gap in the sketchbooks, No. 4 was long thought to have originated earlier, but it actually succeeded No. 5. No. 6 is dated 1800.

Beethoven continued to revise the quartets, and in 1818 he added metronome markings for each movement and major tempo changes. They are incorporated here as footnotes.

When the quartets were printed, Beethoven changed their chronological order-probably to give each group a striking beginning-he placed No. 1 at the head of the first and No. 4 at the head of the second.

In the preface, the editor explains the notation adopted in the score, sometimes clarifying ambiguous subjects such as ornaments and staccato dots versus daggers. …

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