Струнный квинтет c-moll, Opus 104

Время создания: август 1817 года.
Сочинение представляет собой авторское переложение Фортепианного Трио, Op. 1, №3 для т.н. "альтового квинтета", т.е. струнного квартета с дополнительной партией альта - 2 скрипки, 2 альта и виолончель.

1. Allegro con brio
2. Andante cantabile con variazioni
3. Menuetto quasi allegro
4. Finale: Prestissimo

Quartetto d'Archi di Venezia
+ D. Rossi, viola II

Beethoven arranged a number of his works for different instruments or combinations of instruments. His Second Symphony, for instance, was transcribed for Piano Trio, Op. 36, and, in his most famous transformation, the Violin Concerto was arranged as Piano Concerto in D, Op. 61. This Op. 104 Quintet is an arrangement of the <a href="/node/492">Piano Trio, Op. 1, No. 3</a> (1794-95). But unlike the other endeavors in this genre mentioned here, this adaptation was done by an unknown composer1 (some believe it was the very obscure Kaufmann). Beethoven was given the completed transcription, however, and made substantial corrections, thus apparently giving his imprimatur to the effort. Indeed, if he supplied an opus number to it and sent it off to Artaria, one of his publishers, in 1819, he certainly considered it worthy of his name.

One of the major problems encountered in transcribing a work involving piano for string instruments is reducing the non-sustaining, harder tones of the keyboard to the sweeter, sustaining sounds of the strings. Beethoven usually recomposed or eliminated certain parts he deemed unfit for the other instruments. But here, he did not add or delete any passages, though reallocation to the strings involved a whole new approach to expressing certain phrases that originally appeared on the piano.

The work is cast in four movements: Allegro con brio; Andante cantabile con variazoni; Menuetto: Quasi Allegro; and Prestissimo. At the time Beethoven wrote the Piano Trio, the use of four movements (instead of three) was unusual. It was believed at one time that Haydn had advised Beethoven not to submit the work to the publisher, but it has recently come to light that the older composer likely expressed no such opinion. This trio became one of Beethoven's most popular early chamber works, and the Quintet version brilliantly captures the freshness, the youthful zest and the energy of the original. The theme-and-variations second movement may come across best in this adaptation, but it must be said that no movement actually suffers in any substantial way in this version.

The Quintet was first performed on December 13, 1818, in Vienna.

(All Music Guide)

  • 1. composer identified as Herr Kaufmann in a letter from Beethoven to his publisher, Steiner, in August 1817