Friends of Chamber Music
Belcea String Quartet
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No.7 in F major, Op.59 No.1(Rasumovsky) (10/28/09)
Also, Charley anticipates the Albers Trio's appearance at the Lakewood Cultural Center on January 21.
Gregor Piatigorsky: Variations on a Paganini Theme
Julie Albers, cello; Orion Weiss, piano
Artek 22 Track 9 14:18

In 1805 the Russian ambassador to the Viennese court, Andreas Kyrillovitch Razumovsky, commissioned Beethoven to write three string quartets. According to a later biographer, Razumovsky “lived in Vienna like a prince, encouraging art and science, surrounded by a luxurious library and other collections, and envied by all; what advantages accrued from all this to Russian affairs is another question.”
Accordingly, Beethoven’s Opus 59 Quartets are nicknamed the “Razumovsky Quartets,” with Russian themes incorporated into two of them. In his book on Beethoven’s string quartets, Joseph Kerman calls them “a trio of sharply characterized, consciously differentiated individuals.” The premieres of all three were given by Ignaz Schuppanzigh’s quartet in February, 1807.
Musicians, audiences and critics alike were impressed but mystified by the music. The violinist Felix Radicati wrote: “Beethoven, as the world says, and as I believe, is music-mad—-for these pieces are not music….I said to him that he surely did not consider these works to be music? To which he replied, ‘Oh, they are not for you, but for a later age!’”
One critic called them “deeply thought through and of excellent workmanship but not comprehensible to the public.” As late as 1821, the second quartet was called “important but…unpopular…bizarre.” In short, they were quite a departure from Beethoven’s earlier Opus 18 quartets.