Quartet on Themes for First Movement, Quintet WoO 62
Author: Gerd Prengel
Author: Gerd Prengel
The Unheard Beethoven is proud to present these hypothetical completions of Beethoven's last major work by contributor Gerd Prengel. Following are his notes on his completions:
The last musical thoughts Beethoven left to us before his death are sketches for a string quintet in C major. There is a complete introduction arranged (probably by Anton Diabelli) as a piano version for 2 hands and for 4 hands and sketches for the themes of the following movements. These sletches fascinated me very much and I was curious how these themes could be developed. So I wrote 2 movements for a string quartet using the 24 bar introduction and the sketches for the first and fourth movement (just as I earlier had composed a symphonic movement based on the sketch for the Scherzo of Beethoven's planned Tenth symphony). Furthermore I also wrote 2 additional movements using my own themes, an Adagio on the theme B.A.C.H. (in 1825 Beethoven made one of several attempts to compose an overture on this theme) and a Scherzo.
At first Beethoven's sketches for movement #2 (a simple Mozart-like Andante theme in 9/8) and #3 didn't appeal to me very much. Just recently however I began to discover that the Andante theme can be wonderfully used for variations.
I. First movement - Andante Maestoso/Allegro (C Major)
The introduction is almost completely by Beethoven. I just arranged it for a string quartet since it is just available in a piano arrangement by Diabelli (at the Unheard Beethoven Website it had been similarly arranged already for a string quintet by Mark Zimmer). I like this introduction very much. It reminds me a little bit of the wonderfully majestic and melodious intro to Beethoven's overture op.115.
The Allegro starts with flowing eighth notes in a way similar to the quartet op.59,1 with the main theme lying calmly at first with the cello, then repeated in the first violin and then again in a bright fortissimo. A little "pre-development" of the theme leads to the second theme, a beautiful somewhat Schubert-like melody in A Major. This again culminates in a passionate fortissimo theme at the end of the exposition.
The development begins with fragments of the second theme at first without any acompaniment leading to the elaboration of the main theme from Beethoven. The development of this theme is carried out only in the minor - firstly in a calm and melancholic way and then in very contrapuntal (with countersubjects) and also conflicting ways. It is amazing what manifold potential this Beethoven theme has!
The Reprise is similiar to the exposition. A short but wonderful addition is a little variation of the second theme in c minor.
The Coda has two parts: A slow, very tender and transfiguring variation of the main theme and a Presto bringing the movement to a jubilant close.
II. Second movement - Andante con variazioni
An Andante with 10 variations on Beethoven's 9/8 Andante theme in G Major which reminds us of the Mozart-like Andante theme in 6/8 from the first Symphony op. 21 or the Andante from op. 18,6. I feel it is very suited for variations, especially those in the minor I love very much.
III. Third movement - Scherzo Presto
A furious Presto in c-minor based on Beethoven's 8 bar motif, with equal 1/4 notes in the violins answered by the knocking fate motif in the bass. The Trio has a contrasting calm and melodic character.
IV. Fourth movement - Allegro vivace (C Major)
Actually there are two sketches for this movement - a sketch in 6/8 and a similiar sketch in 2/4. To my mind the one in 2/4 is much more vivid and melodious, so I used that one. With regard to the rhythm we may be reminded here of the Rondo of Beethoven's quartet op.130, which had been written just a few months earlier.
I tried to elaborate the theme in several ways: with humorous parts, longer melodious cantabile parts and conflicting fugatos. Like in the first movement the Coda has two parts: A slow expressive variation of the main theme in c minor and again a furious Presto.
Incipits from the scores and mp3 versions of the quartet movements are available at Gerd Prengel's website: http://www.gerdprengel.de/