The Convalescent Quartet

The Busch Quartet performance of Beethoven’s A Minor Quartet – I always start at 17:29 -the third movement.

Although I have little technical knowledge of musical form, music plays as large a part in my life as literature. These last few months I’ve revisited pieces that have shaped my love of music.

The entire Op. 132 is characteristic of the unpredictability of late Beethoven, but this third movement, which Beethoven annotated as Hymn of thanksgiving to a deity from a convalescent, written to mark his recovery from a long and debilitating illness, never fails to turn me inside out. The two very fast sections that mark the transition between the three agonizingly slow chorale sections always give me a jolt, but are easily recognisable as the thrill of feeling better after those slow, timeless drowsy days of lying ill.

There is an otherworldly essence to Beethoven’s late quartets that somehow seems to anticipate so much of music to come.

4 thoughts on “The Convalescent Quartet

  1. What an astonishing and moving piece of music. I think the vague crackling and disintegration in this recording adds something too. It seems fitting to listen to a version that isn’t absolutely pristine.

    • It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? There is no one who pays it better than the Busch Quartet, who manage to play the chorales even slower than anyone else. The faster you play the chorales, the more an underlying hymn becomes evident, which is not the intention.

  2. Pingback: Time's Flow Stemmed

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