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Ensemble tackles complete Beethoven string quartets

PETERBOROUGH - The Borromeo String Quartet continues its performances of the complete Beethoven string quartets with a concert in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26.

This program will feature the Quartet #13, known as the Grosse Fuge (Op. 133), Quartet#13 in Bb major, (Op. 130) and Quartet #16 in F major, (Op. 135), which was the last substantial work completed by Beethoven before his death in March 1827.

"The 'late quartets' of Beethoven comprise a distinct unit among the total 16 that he wrote," said Jonathan Bagg, artistic director. "They were produced in one continuous stream - the kind of creative burst that is rare even among the greatest composers - between May of 1824 and October of 1826."

The impetus, Bagg said, was a commission the composer received from the Russian Prince Galitzin.

"Internally the composer was in the grip of a tremendous progression of ideas that led him from essentially known territory towards a new and radical concept of the string quartet's potential, stunning in its ambition, variety, and originality," he said. "We see this transformation taking place as we move from the heroic grandeur of the first two 'Galitzin' Quartets (opus 127 and 132), towards the more expansive, but in some ways more, intimate six-movement form of opus 130, which in its original state ended with the huge 15-minute 'Grosse Fuge,' and finally to opus 131, a work that the listener experiences not as a succession of discrete movements, but as a seamless flow of mood and ideas."

"The last quartet, opus 135, reconstitutes the traditional four-movement format, but conveys the sense that despite its gesture of retrenchment there is really no going back," Bagg said. " Beneath its disarmingly light, even trivial exterior (when compared to the music of the preceding quartets), Beethoven's power to transcend barriers still looms large."

Tickets are $25. For reservations, contact Electric Earth Concerts at or call Miki Osgood at 593-5245.


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