string quartet | United States
Programs for 2020-21 and 2021-22

Program 1: Notes of Norway / Curiosity Cabinets
Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in G minor, Op.74 No.3 “Rider”
Rolf Wallin: “Curiosity Cabinets” for string quartet
Edvard Grieg: String Quartet in G minor, Op.27

During at least half a millennium, kings, scientists, rich merchants and others have reserved large or small rooms to contain remarkable natural and manmade objects: unicorn's horns, wondrous corals and giant pearls, artificial nightingales, mermaids' skeletons, breathtaking artifacts, deformed creatures in glass jars. And above it all: a stuffed crocodile appearing to walk upside down under the ceiling.

These Cabinets of Curiosities were efforts to make a representation and mapping of the Universe, both its physical and mystical domains. Athanasius Kircher had this inscription painted on the ceiling of his museum: 'Whosoever perceives the chain that binds the world below to the world above will know the mysteries of nature and achieve miracles.'

Rolf Wallin’s collection of musical miniatures is not expected to achieve miracles, but serves as a small cabinet of musical curiosity for the curious listener.

Program 2: Eternal Rest
Franz Schubert: String Quartet in D minor D810 "Death and the Maiden"
George Crumb: String Quartet “Black Angels”*

This program explores the theme of death. Schubert's almost heavenly writing is echoed - and quoted - by George Crumb's irony and almost perverse writing.

*2 gongs, 2 bass bows, and 4 amplifiers should be provided

Program 3: Women Composers Then and Now
Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in E-flat major
Augusta Read Thomas: New Work
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F minor Op.80 “Requiem for Fanny”

Alongside two romantic pieces centered around Fanny Mendelssohn, the program features a brand new work written for the Rolston String Quartet by well-known American composer Augusta Read Thomas, about whom music critic Edward Reichel wrote: "Augusta Read Thomas has secured for herself a permanent place in the pantheon of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.She is without question one of the best and most important composers that this country has today. Her music has substance and depth." (Edward Reichel, 2015)

Program 4: Hungry for Hungary
Béla Bartók: String Quartet No.1
Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in G minor, Op.74 No.3, “Rider”
György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 1 “Metamorphoses nocturnes” 1953/54
Béla Bartók: Piano quintet BB 33*

György Ligeti, whose references to Bartok and Berg prohibited the world premiere of his first quartet for several years (it was first performed in 1958, after he had left Hungary), explained the piece in a program note as follows: “The first word of the sub-title Metamorphoses nocturnes refers to the form. It is a kind of variation form, only there is no specific ‘theme’ that is then varied. It is, rather, that one and the same musical concept appears in constantly new forms - that is why ‘metamorphoses’ is more appropriate than ‘variations’.” On matters of his musical style, Ligeti warns, not to expect the style of his later compositions: “In this First String Quartet there are certainly some characteristics of my later music, but the writing is totally different, ‘old-fashioned’; there are still distinct melodic, rhythmic and harmonic patterns and bar structure. It is not tonal music, but it is not radically atonal, either. The piece still belongs firmly to the Bartók tradition [...].”



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Posted: Oct-19-2019
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