Tag Archives: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

[73] Ludwig van Beethoven – String Quartets Opp. 131 and 135

29 Aug

My wife and I recently watched “A Late Quartet”.  In the back of my mind I was aware that, for this blog, I would soon be listening to a recording of the pieces featured in that fascinating movie.

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic

However, the perfect personal performances seen and heard on screen bear no resemblance whatsoever to the huge and hearty sounds that Leonard Bernstein urges from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

The reason is obvious.  Bernstein has transposed Beethoven’s work – originally written for a viola, a cello and two violins – to an entire string section of a modern orchestra.

The sound is big and bold and yet still nuanced, the many parts of the orchestra coalescing into a pleasing whole.  But something – the melody? the lack of intimacy? – fails to grab me the way the same pieces did in the movie.

I do not follow the internal story, the structure of these pieces intuitively as I did so viscerally, so immediately with the “Archduke”.  It’s not something I can easily articulate, but this recording doesn’t resonate with me in a meaningful way.

Am I unfairly comparing this purely audial experience with all of the visual and interpersonal storytelling that went hand in hand with this music in “A Late Quartet”?  It is entirely possible.

Am I still reveling in the afterglow of discovering the “Archduke”?  I certainly could be.

But whatever the reason, I don’t expect to feel the desire to revisit these String Quartets in the future, although I might watch the movie again.

However, I am certain that I will enjoy my next visit with Bernstein a few months from now . . .

Next Week: Ludwig van Beethoven – Missa Solemnis

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 73 = 12%)
Heard before blogging? No. (11 of 73 = 15%)
Recommend? No. (58 of 73 = 79%)


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