Ludwig van Beethoven revolutionised the string quartet form through the various stages of his life.
This is the first of his so-called 'middle period' quartets – the Op 59 'Razumovsky Quartets', known for their greater length and technical difficulty.
When a violinist, struggling with the challenge of these quartets complained to Beethoven that they weren’t music, Beethoven promptly told him, “Oh, they are not for you, but for a later age”.
To satisfy a whim of his patron Count Razumovsky, Beethoven included a Russian theme in the final movement but he does so with a twist. He takes a sad, patriotic Russian theme, speeds it up and makes it fun. Beethoven had a conflicted relationship with the nobility. While he needed the money that came with this class of people, he also valued his own artistic licence and resented interference.
Recorded 26 August 2018, St. Andrew's on The Terrace, Wellington by RNZ Concert
Sound engineer: Darryl Stack