Repertoire for Spring 2014
Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, opus 110 was written in three days (July 12–14, 1960). It was premiered that year in Leningrad by the Beethoven Quartet. The piece was written shortly after two traumatic events: the first presentation of debilitating muscular weakness that would eventually (in 1965) be diagnosed as a rare form of polio, and his reluctant joining of the Communist Party. According to the score, it is dedicated "to the victims of fascism and war"; his son, Maxim, interprets this as a reference to the victims of all totalitarianism, while his daughter Galina says that he dedicated it to himself, and that the published dedication was imposed by the Russian authorities. Shostakovich's friend, Lev Lebedinsky, said that Shostakovich thought of the work as his epitaph and that he planned to commit suicide around this time. The work was written in Dresden, where Shostakovich was to write music for the film Five Days, Five Nights, a joint project by Soviet and East German filmmakers about Bombing of Dresden in World War II. The first movement opens with the DSCH motif which was Shostakovich's musical signature. This slow, extremely sad theme can also be heard in his Cello Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 10, Violin Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 15, and Piano Sonata No. 2. The motif is used in every movement of this quartet, and is the basis of the faster theme of the third movement. The work is filled with quotes of other pieces by Shostakovich: the first movement quotes his Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 5; the second movement uses a Jewish theme first used by Shostakovich in his Piano Trio No. 2; the third movement quotes the Cello Concerto No. 1; and the fourth movement quotes the 19th century revolutionary song "Tormented by Grievous Bondage" and the aria "Seryozha, my love" from Shostakovich's opera, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.
Johannes Brahms: Piano Quintet in F minor, opus 34 was completed during the summer of 1864. It was dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Princess Anne of Hesse. This piece underwent several transformations before Brahms was finally satisfied with it. Originally, he had written the piece for string quintet; it did not fully satisfy either him or friends of his such as Clara Schumann (Robert 's wife and talented pianist) and Joseph Joachim (virtuoso violinist). Both friends expressed their admiration for the music, but also doubts as to the all-string instrumentation. So the quintet became a Sonata for Two Pianos, which was not received well by the public. Finally, in 1864 Brahms reworked the piece to its present form: a quintet for piano and string quartet. In listening to the work, one is not at all aware of the long journey of its creation, but only of the richness and deep musical thought in this masterpiece.
Ludwig van Beethoven: String Quartet No.4 in C minor, opus 18 is unique among the six of Op. 18. First, it is the only quartet for which no previous sketches have been found. This has lead scholars to conjecture that the quartet was assembled from earlier music that Beethoven “stockpiled” before coming to Vienna. Others have concluded that the quartet was written without the extensive revisions typical of Beethoven. The quartet is also unique for being the only one of the set in a minor key. C minor is often regarded as “the” minor key for Beethoven, the same he chose for such works as the earlier “Pathétique” piano sonata, the later fifth symphony and his final piano sonata, Op. 111. One of the most popular quartets, this one is full of drama revolving around the gravity of its ruling minor mode.
Antonin Dvořák: Slavonic Dances were composed in 1878 and 1886. Originally written for piano four hands, the Slavonic Dances were inspired by Johannes Brahms's own Hungarian Dances and were orchestrated at the request of Dvořák's publisher soon after composition. The pieces, lively and overtly nationalistic, were well received at the time and today are among the composer's most memorable works, occasionally making appearances in popular culture.
Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dances derive from the czardas found in contemporary collections of Hungarian music. Brahms learned many of these through his encounter much earlier with Remenyi, but he invested the melodies with even greater character, recreating them in an expanded form. Abrupt transitions of tempo, material and mood conjure up the commonly-held image of gypsy violinists.
Romantic Chamber Music
Enjoy an hour of romantic chamber music classics including works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Delibes, - and featuring special arrangements of all-time favorite romantic miniatures.
Meet the NESQ members at one of our Family Concerts featuring "The Family" suite - a collection of light entertaining short pieces for string quartet, "Teen Girl", "Wife", "Grandma", "Little Boy", "Husband", "Grandpa", "Mother-In-Law", - as well as special arrangements of your favorite movie and cartoon soundtracks!