The final chapter of the Beethoven Quartet cycle is its most consequential, summing up the composer as no other program could. In the seven-movement op. 131, we experience the culmination of his structural expansion, in which the composer added a movement to each successive quartet beginning with op. 130. Played without pause, the haunting opening fugue returns in the finale, now defiant, building to the work’s blazing conclusion. And with op. 135, Beethoven looks backward and forward simultaneously, whimsically remembering the classical age and peeking through narrow openings to music of the future.
For information about the preceding Inside the Quartets with David Finckel, click here.