Abandoned String Quartet beginning for 'Prometheus Variations op. 35, Gardi 22 (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
The theme from the finale of the Third Symphony, op. 55, was used in several compositions by Beethoven, apparently due to his fascination with the workings of the generalbass of the somewhat trivial theme, much as he would become fascinated by Diabelli's trivial waltz nearly 20 years later. The theme was not only used in the symphony, but in the finale of the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, op. 43, and as one of the contredanses that he wrote for the Viennese public. He also wrote an epic set of piano variations on the theme. Contained in the Kessler sketchbook of 1802, amongst the sketches for the piano variations is a fairly shocking work: a scoring of the theme for string quartet. The first statement of the theme is quite close to the second statement in the piano set; the others are quite different. Did Beethoven at one point consider this to be a set of string quartet variations rather than piano variation? He wrote no such work, except in the context of full-blown quartets, so this would indeed have been a novelty for him. Mostly complete, the quartet version throws light on the infinite variety that the Master found in this little theme.