Friday 1 October 2021
St Mary Magdalene, Leintwardine
Thomas Bowes, violin; Patrick Kiernan, violin;
Ralph de Sousa, viola; Tim Gill, cello
Beethoven: String Quartet in F major, Op.59, No.1
Beethoven: String Quartet in E minor, Op.59, No.2
Beethoven: String Quartet in C major, Op.59, No.3
Tom Bowes writes: ‘It has been a long-cherished idea to get these three, mighty, Opus 59 works played back to back. It goes back to the early 1990s and my years playing with the Maggini Quartet: we had played all of them separately and had broadcast No.2 on Radio 3 but never together. We did at one point discuss doing so but felt it was unprogrammable for most promoters.
‘The idea that they form a bigger super-work of twelve movements is not entirely my own — various writers have seen the connections between them — and this is also not an isolated case of a set of works composed by Beethoven being related, as the last three piano Sonatas and other sets of the piano sonatas could be seen like this.
‘In the quartets, the narrative connection is especially strong between Nos.2 and 3 and there are a couple of other details hinting at this continuity: the finale of No.2 oscillates between the work's home key of E minor and C major, which latter is the home key of No.3; there are the few words scribbled by Beethoven on the sketches of the finale of No.3 — something like “Never again be ashamed of your deafness”. That finale feels like such a huge outpouring of joy at re-finding his sense of self and wholeness that I find it hard not to see it as the finale of eleven preceding movements and not just three. I even wonder if the slow Introduction to No.3 is a description of deafness?’