Sometimes free, sometimes strict

1920´s: first performance after Beethoven´s death (1827) of the op 130 with the Grosse Fuge as final movement.

Seemingly unrelated outbursts
. Assertive, sforzando. The cello trills. Zig Zag. Vigour. Excess of tension. Fortissimo. Frenzy. Bustle. Hurried development:

Proust and Beethoven. Both translate the inner book in the proximity of death, what makes to say only what is important to be said and in the only way it could be expressed: rushing and forgetting the ornaments. When there is a need to rush, fragments appear to be the best way of composing. The subject can not be expressed in a simpler way than through fragmentation

Beethoven creates parallel centers of gravity, intensities, disjointed play of forces. The Grosse Fuge is a big question mark. The Doubt is brought in: music is folded, between two, a critical junction, the themes are broken into pieces. Beethoven opens all the possibilities of certainty.

We should consider the Fuge in its organic articulation as a texture in uncessant transformation of shapes. Is there a thread?


- Overture: presentation of the 2 main themes
: Theme 1 (unison fortissimo followed by a variation in legato=Theme 1a), Theme 2 Meno mosso e moderato followed by a variation of the Theme 1, Theme 1b.
- PART 1 Fuge: presentation of the 3rd main theme (counter subject) + variation of Theme
1b as subject. Development, fragmentation and manipulation of subject and counter subject.
- PART 2 Meno mosso e moderato
: as a counter subject + Theme 1 as subject
- Allegro molto e con brio
: Theme 1a, scherzo
- PART 3 Double Fuge
: develop of the Theme 1. Develop of the Theme 3 + Theme 1 + Meno mosso e moderato. End: odd progression of chords
- Allegro molto e con brio
+ fake end
- Summary: recapitulation + Allegro finale of the Theme 3.

The fuge as dance. There is something that plays the a constant rol: the rhythm, even if it´s cross-rhythm or syncopated, we still recognize perfectly the determination: the fortissimo and sforzando. It´s a static maniacal dance, an inner violent hurried dance. What creates a certain thread are no longer the subjects or counter subjects, niether the thems or melodies but rather a specific determination on the music, a Will to Power.

Beethoven´s biggest experiment: he burst the conventions of clasical music proposing new statements that will not be followed by the next generation, they will not be social accepted until the XX century.

The difficulty of the Grosse Fuge is just a matter of time: it requires time beyond any superficial approach. Beethoven is pointing the conventions to make us realize that it´s all about re-organizing the limits of our perception, taste, comprehension. It demands time to get access, requires an effort. It is a process of knowing each other and Beethoven is demanding again an effort from the audience to redefine the limits of what we call perception or understanding.

I don´t think the clue to approach the Grosse Fuge is to decipher the form or structure but rather to focus on three concepts: Simultaneity, Fragmentation and Dissonances.

The Grosse Fuge brings in the following idea: simultaneity of subjects in continuous variation and fragmentation without harmonic requirements.

The simultaneity can be understood as a competition or an inner struggle between non complementary elements that Beethoven brings them together. But also as a co-existence of the differences. This differences or contrast create the appearance of chaos but it doesn´t, it´s just a complex world.

The Themes are not only transformed and disguised under multitude of different appearances creating a kind of perspectivism but also undergoing a process of fragmentation. Melodies become paintbrushes, no longer recognizable as a line, they are cut and delocalized.

Beethoven opens the doors to the dissonances as Samuel Beckett will allow chaos to enter because is the truth. Beethoven´s music becomes less accesible and is not anymore music to please the ears but rather to challenge them. Within tonality, without abandon tonality he expands the limits of understanding music. It´s not that dissonances can also be music but rather there is no music without dissonaces.

Semitones: harmonic and melodic tension

The message in the finale of the ninth Symphony, composed one year before said: let´s put aside the dissonances and let´s be friends: agreement and concord. But the Grosse Fuge proposes a different message: let´s integrate dissonances because they are the truth. The consequences of questioning the harmony are not to have anymore the impression of an agreement. And sometimes there will be moments of comming together in a certain concord: the unison passage of meno mosso a moderato or Adagio con brio. In Beethoven the Weltanschauung (World view) is actually dictated by a logic of Stimmungen, a logic of affects.

How to understand community accepting dissonances and differences?

The gentle and soft section meno mosso e moderato (lyrical section) brings a peaceful mood, because there is no longer a competition and brings some relief after the long Fuge .

But is later when the meno mosso e moderato is introduced inside the Fuge, simulatneously with the main theme, with the instructions forte , the gentle becomes assertive and loud because this time there is a competition on going.

After the meno mosso e moderato part suddenly we arrive in a series of odd progression of chords, each followed by a moment of silence: Uncertainty, expecting the resolution which is abruptly interrupted by the Allegro con brio.

Quick summary, recapitulation and final happy end.

Beethoven brings together the opposition death-life, depression-will of power, yes, dialectical but he brings them simultaneously, showing that one need the other to exist. And the Grosse Fuge is the expression of that simultaneity (to realte with the Heiliges dankgesang)

The Allegro molto e con brio at the ent after the trilling section of the end of the moso e moderato: Negociating moods, bipolarity.

Disonances (existencial despair) against triumph of joy. The Grosse Fuge doesn´t express the disonances of the world (war, illness, proximity of death, depression) but the possibility of the Will to exist inside these dissonances. The Grosse Fuge is a fight.

What is the difference between a string quartet and and string orchestra? 4 musicians or 12, 21, 60.
It´s interesting to listen to the orchestral version of the Grosse Fuge, how the music becomes crowd and to realize how the music becomes more accessible in its orchestral dimension. There is a difference if we isolate 4 single elements than 4 groups of elements.

Grosse Fuge ORCHESTRA by klemperer

But if we put the two long fuges sections parallel we find a perfect symmetry in terms of length . This track brings both sections together:

Grosse Fuge x2 by alban berg quartet

Why have I done something like this? If we double the fuge, if we bend the fuge is not only to find a symmetry but to get a certain experience of how a crowd in fuge would sound like. This case is very different from the string orchestra. Now we have 8 instruments, actually 2 groups of singular elements in fuge. The result is the opposite than with the orchestra. An orchestration of the Grosse Fuge makes the fuge more accesible because each line becomes a choreography for many instruments that repeat the same line. This makes easier to identify and recognize every single line because it has been multiplicated. It´s easier to identify ten pepole moving exactly in the same way than one single person moving on its own way. But the fuge folded on itself makes the chaos bigger and reproduces accurately how a crowd in fuge would sound like. And not only that, if I have increased the chaos was to make more visible that still the fuge keeps an amazing unity. Of course the number of dissonaces are bigger but doesn´t make the whole more dissonant.

Grosse Fuge for Pianoforte 2 hands:

Animation machine of the Grosse Fuge

No comments:

Post a Comment