Ludwig van Beethoven

String Quartet No. 2 in G major ("Compliments"), Op. 18/2

    Description by Emily Stoops

    Beethoven wrote his Op. 18, No. 2 string quartet in G major between the years of 1798-1800. Although this piece is numbered as second in the Op. 18 set, it is generally believed to be the third in Beethoven's chronological order of composition. He put off writing in the quartet form for a long time in his compositional life, and numerous sketches and revisions show that it was not an easy task for the young composer.

    The second quartet, like all the others in the Op. 18 set, is comprised of four movements. It has earned the nickname "Compliments" because it is so polite and graceful in nature. The first movement is an Allegro that opens with a charming violin melody that leads to a quick cadence. Overall, this movement is pleasant, has many points of resolution (predictable cadences), and simple phrase structures. The melody, usually in the violin, is a combination of sweet lyric phrases and bright, playful fragments. During the lyrical parts the accompaniment is light and playful. It is easy to hear the influence of Haydn in the way Beethoven reuses and builds upon the opening melodic material throughout the movement. Even while heavily influenced by Haydn's compositional methods, however, Beethoven adds his own delightful musical invention.

    Adagio cantabile marks the character of the second movement, which begins with a melody that is sweet but also formal, almost courtly in nature. What makes this movement highly unusual is the subsequent Allegro section that boisterously interrupts halfway through. The allegro is as brief as it is unexpected, and the movement ends with the same adagio feel in which it began.

    The third movement is, predictably, a light and playful Scherzo that dances along with the good nature of any Scherzo. Unlike many of Beethoven's other Scherzos, however, this one does not contain any of the musical surprises that often bring a humorous or boisterous feel to the movement. It is, instead, lively but very polite in character.

    The final movement is an Allegro with a Quasi Presto marking. It is quite energetic and quick from the start and, similarly to the first movement, the opening motif returns and is developed in many inventive ways. Most of the melodic motion is scalar, though it is combined with short lyrical melodies. The close of the movement is exuberant and in keeping with the good nature of the piece.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio cantabile
    3. Scherzo. Allegro
    4. Allegro molto, quasi Presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Audite AUD 21454
    2018 Coro COR 16164
    2018 Wigmore Hall Live WHLIVE 0089
    2017 Audite AUD 92689
    2017 Supraphon SU 42212
    2016 Alpha ALPHA 262
    2016 ABC Classics
    2016 Avie AV 2348
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795982
    2015 Thorofon CTH 2614
    2015 Centaur Records CRC 33783379
    2015 ZYX Classics CLA 10188
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMC 90220708
    2014 ATMA Classique ACD 22491
    2014 Hänssler Classic CD 98029
    2014 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 344
    2014 Harmonia Mundi HMU 80764148
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Audite AUDITE 21424
    2012 Warner Classics 694515
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Zig Zag Territoires ZIG 315
    2011 Parnassus Records PACD96048/9
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Virgin Classics
    2011 Bridge BRIDGE 9342AB
    2011 CAvi-music 8553159
    2010 Warner Classics
    2010 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099960710
    2010 Foghorn / Foghorn Classics 2005
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Foghorn 1996
    2010 Sony Classical 7776782
    2009 Nimbus 6105
    2008 Warner Classics 2564694713
    2008 Corona Classics 0002742CCC
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93323
    2007 Naïve E 8902
    2007 Camerata Records 28111
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 907436.37
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2006 Arte Nova 636370
    2006 Biddulph Recordings 80221
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Chandos 10381
    2006 Teldec
    2006 ASV / Sanctuary 801
    2006 Teldec
    2006 NCA 60139
    2005 EMI Classics 73798/8
    2005 EMI
    2005 Vanguard 1655
    2005 Warner Music 4621612
    2005 Praga 350013
    2004 EMI Classics
    2004 Decca
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2003 Chandos 10009
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80382
    2002 Challenge Classics CC72009
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 87889
    2002 Hungaroton 41004
    2001 Naïve 4871
    2001 Capriccio Records 10886
    2001 Boheme Music 9155
    2001 Praga 250158
    2001 Music & Arts 1084
    2001 ASV/Living Era 1111
    2000 Supraphon 3490
    2000 Calliope 3633/9
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463143
    1999 Calliope 9633
    1999 Arte Nova 63637
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Hyperion 55021/8
    1999 Calliope 9633/9
    1999 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 7243573606
    1999 Philips 426046
    1999 Biddulph Recordings LAB089-90
    1998 Praga 256005
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 760-2GCB3
    1997 Strings 99307
    1997 Arte Nova 74321 49682-2
    1997 Telarc Distribution 80475
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 66408
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon
    1996 Philips 454 062-2PB10
    1996 Everest EVC905152
    1995 Berlin Classics 0090522
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 911540.41
    1995 Classical Creations 820529
    1994 Naxos 550558
    1994 Delos 3039
    1993 Praga 254009
    1993 ASV 305
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 52531
    1993 Teldec 76457
    1993 Teldec 91494
    1993 RCA Victor 61284
    1991 Harmonia Mundi 1901222
    1990 Delos 3032
    1990 CBS Records 37868
    1990 RCA 60456
    1987 Valois 4402
    Chandos 10553
    Cascade Records 2250
    EMI Music Distribution 47127
    E1 Distribution 7682
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 320
    MDG 3070855
    Denon Records 7041
    Platz 588
    Brilliant 93525/35
    Brilliant Classics 93323/1
    Brilliant 92387/26
    Hyperion 66401
    BBC Music Magazine 236
    Brilliant 99119
    ABC Classics 4763541
    RCA Victor 902661621
    Musical Heritage Society 10903
    ABC Classics 4763542
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 322
    EMI Music Distribution 47126