Skip to content
Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2013 Schubert, Berwald, Beethoven
Schubert, Berwald, Beethoven PDF Print E-mail

Schubert plunged into chamber music in 1816-17, when he was not yet 20, composing two String Trios in B flat major (D 471 and D 581). The first only gets as far as the Allegro, then just over 30 bars of a slow movement. The joyful linearity of the main theme, with the violin dominating an oscillating viola accompaniment over a long warm cello note, and the rapid combinations of the three voices, make this a pungent composition in the Haydn-Mozart tradition. However, a short pianissimo passage, with the tensions leading into the second theme, and its internal structure, already point the way to the composer’s future restlessness, his ability to blend sunny happiness with a touch of melancholy, even latent fear. A more precise symptom might perhaps have brought us the rest of the Trio, which never saw the light.
The romantic Swedish composer Franz Adolf Berwald enjoyed scant success in his lifetime, but made up for it later in the 19th century, when his style and personality were acknowledged. His Septet in B flat, dated 1828, has a persuasive weave, with clearly defined melodic ideas and effective dynamic-expressive solutions. The winds are given long lines, opposed to pizzicato on the strings in the Allegro molto; the clarinet holds the melodic line in the first movement, and the violin waxes lyrical in the slow sections around the Prestissimo, illustrating a strong romantic thread running through the dark Nordic mists. In the Allegro con spirito the whole ensemble turns itself into an opera buffa group, with refined orchestration.
Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major, op. 20, dating from 1800, shows him intent on translating the light-hearted, entertaining mood. Almost his last homage to a world that consumed music like recreation – an ornament to living – the Septet, formally divided up like a divertissement into six movements, feels like a serenade or even an ample chamber “symphony”. His use of E flat major also gives a glimpse of the past and the Haydn tradition. Beethoven himself admitted that the Septet could boast imagination but not true art, but its variety of timbre sometimes nearly gives the effect of an orchestra. The agile Scherzo is the most prophetic moment – its strong expressive identity clearly outlines the composer’s future symphonic genius.

Monica Luccisano