January - February
From the Heart
Drobnosti (Miniatures) Op. 75a Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)
Cappricio, poco allegro
Strum Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981)
~ break ~
String Quartet in E flat Major Fanny Mendelssohn (1805 – 1847)
Adagio ma non troppo
Allegro molto vivace
Sunday, January 13 - 2:00pm in Sudbury
Thursday, January 17 - 7:00pm in Boston
Friday, February 1 - 7:00pm in Newton
Saturday, February 2 - 7:00pm in Wellesley
Sunday, February 3 - 2:00pm in Newton
Sunday, February 24 - 6:30pm in Quincy
Friday, March 1 - 7:00pm in Milton
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In a letter to his publisher, Dvorak wrote about his Drobnosti, "I am writing little miniatures – just imagine – for two violins and viola, and I enjoy the work as much as if I were writing a large symphony.” Written in 1887 for his housemate, chemistry and violin student Josef Kruis, Dvorak, himself a violist, played them with Kruis and his teacher. They showcase Dvorak’s penchant for beautiful melodies, heartfelt writing, and elements of folk song. In the same year, Dvorak also arranged them as pieces for violin and piano, called Four Romantic Pieces.
Jessie Montgomery writes: “Within Strum I utilized texture motives, layers of rhythmic or harmonic ostinati that string together to form a bed of sound for melodies to weave in and out. The strumming pizzicato serves as a texture motive and the primary driving rhythmic underpinning of the piece. Drawing on American folk idioms and the spirit of dance and movement, the piece has a kind of narrative that begins with fleeting nostalgia and transforms into ecstatic celebration.” Montgomery, herself a violinist in the Catalyst Quartet, and a collaborator with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, writes with the perspective of a chamber musician. She brings to bear her experiences as a performer and her upbringing in a musician’s household in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The Quartet in E-flat major, written in 1834, is Fanny Mendelssohn’s only string quartet. It displays a virtuosity in writing on par with the other true musical geniuses in history. With characteristics of Beethovenian drama, Baroque counterpoint, and the optimistic brilliance her brother Felix is known for, it makes great demands on the player, but in a way that falls well on each instrument. The last movement is especially thrilling. An absolute roller coaster of cascading fast notes which keep players and listeners breathless in hopes of a safe landing. Written when Fanny was 29, already married and a mother, the quartet hadn’t become well known until recently when several really excellent recordings have been made. Fanny was a prolific composer, as well as a trusted sounding board for Felix. She was a sensational pianist, however at the time she wasn't encouraged to publish her works or perform much in public because while music could be a profession for men, it but must only be an “ornament” for women, in the words of her father. She has an extensive output of music, for voice and piano, as well as chamber music and some orchestral pieces which are all worth a rotation in everyone’s playlist.
- Megumi Stohs Lewis