We can guess a private joke behind the title of the work that closes this program of the Metropolitan Soloists. Beethoven wrote the Duet for Two Spectacle Bearers with his friend, Baron Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanovecz, an official of the Chancellery of the Hungarian Royal Court in Vienna and an amateur cellist in mind. A letter sent to Zmeskall in 1798 reveals that they both needed glasses to read the music. The two must have played it together, therefore, with the composer taking over the viola part, since the original version was written for those two instruments.
In turn, the WoO 27 Duets also carry a story. It is possible that they were not actually composed by Beethoven. For many years it was thought that they were written by him, but recent studies have raised some doubts. The earliest known sources come from an edition published in Paris in the 1810s. But in the absence of autograph manuscripts, any investigation depends on a stylistic analysis of the score, which is not conclusive, according to musicologists who have looked into the matter. Still, credit issues aside, it is certain that these are three delightful pieces. Classically styled and originally written for clarinet and bassoon, they are also often played by different combinations of instruments.
L. v. Beethoven Three Duets, WoO 27
L. v. Beethoven Duet for Two Spectacle Bearers, WoO 32
Diana Tzonkova violin
Ercole de Conca double bass