Philips - 1 LP - 6500 181 - (p) 1972
Philips - 3 CDs - 420 046-2 - (c) 1989

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18 No. 3
26' 08"
- Allegro 8' 04"

- Andante con moto 8' 27"

- Allegro 3' 01"

- Presto 6' 36"

String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 No. 1
28' 05"
- Allegro con brio
8' 51"

- Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
9' 25"

- Scherzo (Allegro molto) 3' 22"

- Allegro 6' 27"

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


Luogo e data di registrazione
La Salle des Remparts, La Tour-de-Peilz (Svizzera) - 13-24 gennaio 1972

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Engineer
Vittorio Negri | Tony Buczynski

Prima Edizione LP
Philips | 6500 181 | 1 LP | (p) 1972

Prima Edizione CD
Philips | 420 046-2 | 3 CDs - 54' 02" - 47' 25" - 57' 28" - (1*, 1-4; 2, 1-4) | (c) 1989 | ADD

L'edizione in CD contiene anche i Quartetti Op. 18 nn. 2, 4, 5 e 6.

Beethoven started composing string quartets relatively late, around 1798. Possibly he wanted first ro reach a  certain degree of maturity in his studies of counterpoint which he had been following since 1793 with Haydn and Schenk, and since 1794 with Albrechtsberger and Salieri. Evidently he regarded as essential a command of polyphonic style, fugue, canon, and part-writing. At any rate in 1795 he rejected a commission for a string quartet by Count Apponyi (it is generally believed that the String Trio, Op. 3 and the String Quintet, Op. 4 were abortive attempts to fulfil this commission, but in fact the trio was written long before Apponyi's request).
When working in a new field it was natural for Beethoven to adhere to established patterns. There is surely more than superficial significance in the fact that he began with a series of six quartets, such as Mozart had produced in 1785 and Haydn in 1790. But as well as these two masters the influence of his own previous compositions is also clear. A. B. Marx, writing around the middle of last century, felt that the difference between the quartets on this record could be expressed in a simple formula: more Beethoven than quartet in the D major (No. 3), more quartet than Beethoven in the F major (No. 1). There are indeed clear differences in technique of composition, but in fact both works bear a throughly Beethovian stamp. It has in ny case been shown that the numbering of these two works does not correspond to the order of writing. The D major Quartet was completed first (and is therefore presented first on this recording) and it was apparently Beethoven's violinist friend Schuppanzigh who advised him that the later F major Quartet would make a more effective opening to the series.

String Quartet in D, Op. 18 No. 3
Right at the start of the D major Quartet (No. 3) one is still very aware of the division of the parts into melodic and accompanying lines. By comparison with the often dominant first violin part the other instruments or combinations of instruments are given relatively little prominence. In this quartet, unlike the F major, the cello in particular takes very little part in the thematic activity. The normal calm centre of a Beethoven quartet is occupied here by the Andante con moto of the second movement, whose exceptional lenght has been remarked on by many critics. The typical Beethoven is certainly in evidence in the scherzo-like Allegro, which has much in common with the scherzo of the F major Quartet. This type of movement was to be among the first to be fully developed by Beethoven. But he does not seem to be completely in his element until the finale, which clearly stands apart from the other movements. The sketches reveal that Beethoven spent much time on it. It is borne along by the freshness and verve of its writing which gives greater prominence ti fugal and canonic writing.

String Quartet in G, Op. 18 No. 1
The F major Quartet (No. 1) opens with an unusually potent idea of crucial importance. This theme offers wide scope for development and brings fresh delight with each repetition, whether in its original form or in one of its variants with modified endings. This is the foundation for the superb thematic work which was later to find a lasting place in works like the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.
After this an effective contrast is provided by the Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato, a movement of indescrihable beauty
and profound intensity, whose similarity to the Largo of the D major Piano Sonata, Op. 10 No. 3 has often been noted. The opening is an original stroke, with its restrained chords moving at a very leisurely pace and acting as more than mere accompaniment to the soaring cantilena of the first violin entry. Beethoven is said to have been thinking here of the tomb scene from "Romeo and Juliet." The scherzo, one of the finest of its kind in Beethoven's output, develops a lively dialogue between the instruments with rapid and starling dynamie changes, from fortissimo to triple piano. In the finale, the very diversity of the material has prevented the movement's unqualified acceptance; the American Beethoven sholar, Joseph Kerman, for instance, found it disappointing after the previous movements and remarked that Beethoven's battle for the finale was yet to come.
Concerning an earlier version of this F major Quartet Beethoven wrote to his friend Amenda that he should not pass on the copy he had received as he (Beethoven) had revised the work, "having only recently learnt how to write quartets." Beethoven's comments on the poor engraving of the first edition are typically pithy: "Herr Mollo has just brought out my quartets full of errors great and small; they are teeming with mistakes ad infinitum like fish in the sea. Questo un piacere per un autore - I really call that engraving: my skin is engraved all over with scratches at the thought of the way my works have been presented
Dr. Hans Schmidt