A light and transparent work, Beethoven's opus 135 is particularly well
suited to a performance with a full string orchestra. Bernstein's
interpretation can be seen as an homage to his revered mentor Dimitri
Mitropoulos, who was the first to conduct a string orchestra version of
Beethoven string quartet (op. 131). Composed in 1826, about half a year
before Beethoven's death, opus 135 is the last work Beethoven completed.
Following the profundity of the preceding Quartet op. 131, the buoyancy and
humor of this piece are surprising. The work seems to long for the ideals
of Classicism, which were now irretrievably lost, and aims for an
accessibility which is often missing in Beethoven's late works.
Leonard Bernstein said that only the strings of the Vienna Philharmonic
could carry off the orchestral rendition of this work with bravura, since
each player is a true soloist. The public performance of opus 135 was
acclaimed by the press. "Since Leonard Bernstein is the number one
conductor today, the only one who can let the Vienna Philharmonic play the
way they would love to sound all the time, he and the orchestra wanted to
play a difficult Beethoven Quartet in a monster setting. They succeeded,
and it was ¿ an exciting work, unlike anything one ever hears."