BEETHOVEN Ludwig van, Sextet in E flat Op.71
Menuetto. Quasi Allegretto
When Beethoven sent the score of his Sextet to the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel in 1809, he was modest about it: ‘The Sextet is from my early days and, moreover, it was written in a single night. There is really no other way to say that it written by a composer who produced some better works.’
Scored for pairs of clarinets, bassoons and horns, it was composed in 1796 (the high opus number is misleading). The Sextet is an elegantly crafted piece in which the young Beethoven also explores some unusual sonorities, not least the rich lower registers of all six instruments in the Adagio where the bassoon presents the main theme. The vigorous Minuet and Trio is launched by the sound of hunting horns, while the Rondo is a spirited movement, bringing this little-known work to a cheerful close.
© Nigel Simeone