Decca - 1 LP - LXT 2856 - (p) 07/1954
London - 1 LP - LL 673 - (p) 01/1953
Amadeus - 7 CDs - AMP 007-013 - (p) 2009

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1 ("Rasumovsky No. 1")
39' 11"
- Allegro
12' 01"

- Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando
8' 59"

- Adagio molto e mesto
12' 14"

- Thème russe (Allegro)
5' 57"

- Paolo Borciani, Elisa Pegreffi, violino
- Piero Farulli, viola
- Franco Rossi, violoncello


Luogo e data di registrazione
Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma (Italia) - 20-30 luglio 1952

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer
John Culshaw, Victor Olof | Gil Went

Matrici 78rpm
DEcca - IAR 597-05

Prima Edizione LP
Decca - LXT 2856 - (1 LP) - (p) 07/1954 - Mono
London - LL 673 - (1 LP) - (p) 01/1953 - Mono

Prima Edizione CD
Paragon/Amadeus - AMP 007-013 - [7 CDs - (6°, 5-8)] - (p) 2009 - ADD

I riferimenti a date e codici sono stati desunti dal libro "Decca Classical, 1929-2009" di Philip Stuart.

At the end of 1805 Beethoven received a commission from a certain Count Rasumovsky to compose some string quartets, with the proviso that they should contain Russian melodies, real or imitated. The Slavonie nobleman who thus ensured his fame with posterity was a notable figure of his time. His father, who was born of peasant stock, rose to be the lover of Catherine the Great of Russia, and it has even been suggested that the Count of the quartets was the Empress's son. He was a man of marked ability who as a  youth served with distinction in yhe Imperial navy and later became Russian ambassador in Vienna, a post which he held for twenty years. He first made Beethoven's acquaintance in 1805 though he had been an ardent admirer of the composer's works since the early 1790's.
The three quartets of Beethoven's Opus 59 are therefore known as the "Rasumovsky". The idea of incorporating Russian themes into them was not entirely happy, for Beethoven had little interest in musical "nationalism", and in any case would hardly have been sympathetic to Russian folk-song. He used Russian themes in the finale of the first quartet and in the trio of the second; in the third, he ignored his patron's condition, a fact which may be taken as internal evidence that it was irksome to him. The true significance of the "Rasumovskys" will be much better appreciated if their Slavonic origin is forgotten. They are the first string quartets of Beethoven's "second period" and in some respects the profoundest works he had written up to their date, showing a spiritual and technical mastery which makes them worthy to stand beside the "posthumus" quartets of the composer's last years.
First Movement: Allegro
Professor Abraham has written that few movements even in Beethoven are as tightly knit thematically as the opening one of the first "Rasumovsky". The first subject is announced at once on the 'cello beneath repeated notes for the second violin and viola. The abruptness of the opening suggests that of the "Archduke" Trio of five years later, as does the theme itself. It is composed ot two parts, one of crotchets and one of quavers. The first violin takes it up on the dominant, and soon a dolce continuation of the quaver limb appears. The second subject section is a good deal more complex. after the dominant of C has been reached, a four-bar 'cello solo precedes a highly dissonant passage, the second violin a G pedal with the other instruments in violent disagreement. The principal second subject theme appears on the first violin, somewhat irregular in structure. Gradually the texture thins out, and the exposition ends with a cadence theme whose pattern is derived from the first subject.
The development, which is very extended and elaborate, is divided into three distinct sections. In the first, figures from the first subject group are discussed at some lenght. In the second, a quaver figure from the cadence theme is used as the subject of a fugato with a counter-subject not otherwise heard in the movement. The final section is less complex in texture and leads to recapitulation. The coda is kept light in mood to bring relief from the long working-out. after a ff apotheosis of the opening theme, the latter's first limb is bandied about with a refreshing artlessness, accompanied in its progress by rollicking triplets.
Second Movement: Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando
The second movement long formed a stumbling-block to Beethoven's contemporaries; they had accepet his substitution of the scherzo for the minuet, but found it hard to stomach such a capricious, unorthodox movement as this allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando. It is in sonata-form - as are full four movements of the quartet - and has non trio, but its chief peculiarity lies in the fact that the exposition does not really begin until bar 101; all that are heard previously are melodie and rhythmic fragments which gradually build up into the material of the movement. Once this is clear, it is not difficult to follow the music. The development and coda sections, being traditionally free, doubtless alarmed conservatives less than the recapitulation, wich Beethoven begins with a dolce theme first heard in the twenty-third bar of the movement instead of with the expected semiquaver phrase.
Third Movement: adagio molto e mesto
In his sketchbook Beethoven wrote at the head of this movement: "A weeping willow or acacia tree on the grave of my brother". The implied allusion has puzzled historians, since both Beethoven's brothers were alive in 1806 and, he was not, in any case, particularly fond of either of them. Clearly the entry cannot be taken literally, but it suggests the elegiac mood of the music. This is one of Beethoven's most transcendentally beautiful adagios. Like the other movements of the quartet it is in sonata-form. The opening eight-bar theme with its sorrowful droops is given out by the first violin, and is followed by a second subject in C minor, smoother and upwardrising. The latter appears later in A flat to start the development, which contains a D major episode with an extended lyrical theme for the first violin, which is derived from the second subject. Recapitulation is shortened, and the coda is mainly a straightforward repetition of the opening theme. Running scale passages for the first violin lead straight into the final movement.
Fourth Movement: Thème russe (Allegro)
This is based on a Russian folk-song, but there is nothing in the movement to suggest Slavonic art. The function of Beethoven's second subject, a dolce tune in smooth crotchets, is to provide rhythmis contrast in the exposition and recapitulation; and it is followed by a "fanfare" theme which is briefly discussed in the development. Otherwise, the Russian theme generates all the music, and is extremely well qualified to do so, being plastic and composed of a number of rhythmically diverse figures almost suggesting a fugue subject. The movement is marvellously organized and if it doe not equal the others in emotional power, provides a striking example of Beethoven's resource and inspired craftsmanship when confronted by a task not of his own choosing

LXT 2856