When you search ‘beethoven string quartet op 131’ on Youtube there are 33,400 results. That spans to about 28 pages worth of video.
From the search, plenty are the quartet in full or individual movements. Nothing else competes for my attention in these videos save for an album cover or additional information. They act like program notes more than anything.
The farther one gets beyond these first pages, however, the less obvious the results become.
Two are of particular interest.
First, there is a video of the quartet as backdrop to slow motion shattering and breakage (here). I had never seen a bullet go through objects in slow motion. It left me in a sense of awe. The other is a movement accompanied by conga drums (here).Classical and conga was not a combination on my radar before that video either.
What these videos beckon go beyond Beethoven’s music. True, it is because of his quartet that I found these videos, but their appeal is not limited strictly to the music like, say, a video of the recording is.
A deeper search yields videos where this supposedly simple function, a presentation of the piece as is, is turned on its head. Nobody was looking for Beethoven with conga drums but behold. It is unique in of itself.
With these videos we shift from the realm of interpretation from performer to performer to re-contextualization from video to video.