Less than a month ago when I left the house in the morning at the usual time I witnessed the moment when the night ends and dawn begins. An irregular patch of dark blue at the horizon surrounded by the opaque black night. This is not trivial, at least not for me. It means that I will soon see the sun rise when I leave home and that is the announcement of spring. Usually I do not feel affected by long, dark winter nights, but this year it is somewhat different. Perhaps because it wasn’t really cold and winter felt more like a long, drawn-out November, wet, grey, dull, unfriendly.
Damn the critics. In no time at all this quartet changed its status from virtually unknown to among my top ten chamber music works. But let’s hear the critics first. The reviewer of the “Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung” denounced in 1811 the “gloomy spirit” of the piece, the “lack of melodic coherence”; he called it an “unnecessary hodgepodge of hard dissonances”. In autumn 1809 Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major (Op. 74), underrated up to this day. “De la classe et de l’esprit après la fureur des canons”, I am tempted to say. French is appropriate in this case, for shortly before Beethoven started to compose this quartet, Napoleon’s troops were advancing on Vienna and the composer suffered greatly from the bombardment by French artillery in May 1809.
This quartet feels like a good-bye, and I would like to dedicate the post to a certain priest that played a substantial part in the posts of my fellow blogger readonmydear. He has left Ireland and moved on to Italy to do his duty and we, readonmydear’s readers, will miss him. String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D.804, was written by Franz Schubert in early 1824 for two violins, viola and cello. It is the only quartet performed in public during Schubert’s lifetime; the premiere, executed by the quartet led by the violinist and conductor Ignaz Schuppanzigh, took place in March 1824. I heard it yesterday performed by the Julia Fischer Quartett at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg. A recording by the Taneyev Quartet is available at your music store.
Hours full of pain – not exactly a selling argument! But this is the title the composer Gabriel Dupont gave a piano cycle he wrote in 1904: Les Heures Dolentes. If you listen to the recording by Stéphane Lemelin, you will at once hear that title is well deserved and that no one ever has described in a more beautiful way the slowly passing, monotonous hours when you try to recover from really bad news, these moments when you feel paralyzed, unable to speak, unable to move, when you stare in front of you aimlessly, absent-minded. This singular mood when all seems lost and life makes no sense anymore.