op.106 e op.133

There are stupendous moments, such as the una corda passage, in the enormous finale of Op. 106, and about the whole there is a sort of massive spaciousness : but after all there is really no denying the sheer tortuous ugliness of portions of it, and temperate criticism of its roughnesses need not at all cause us to identify ourselves with the callow young gentlemen who think that they can leam composition without counterpoint. Again, the finale of the violoncello sonata (*), even after long acquaintance, appears to most musicians somewhat crabbed and hard, and there is no relief at all: while the climax is reached in the outlandish “Grosse Fuge,” which (so far as seems to be known) not even Joachim, to whom the popularisation of the late quartets is practically entirely due, has ventured to play in public. The whole problem is indeed very curious, and has no strict parallels in the works of Bach or any other great composer: we cannot make Beethoven’s deafness really responsible for much of it, and we can only fall back on the reflection that, after all, the third period is in many ways one of transition— per aspera (or, as here, per asperrima) ad astra. While, very possibly, themselves perpetrating poetry under the fetters of metre and rhyme, which are quite as much, and as little, “academic.”
Ernest Walker, Beethoven, 1905

(*) Sonata No. 5, Op. 102, No. 2


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