November 2, Monday 7pm. Newton, MA
November 4, Wednesday 7pm. Winchester, MA
November 16, Monday 7:30pm. Lexington, MA
String Quartet in F-major, op.18 N1 Ludwig van Beethoven
Allegro con brio
Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
Scherzo: Allegro molto
String Quartet N8 in C-minor, op.110 Dmitri Shostakovich
Sasha Callahan and Ethan Wood, violins
Alexander Vavilov, viola
Ying-Jun Wei, cello
The heritage of both composers represented tonight is considered a priceless treasure in the history of music and perhaps in the history of art in general. Overestimating the importance of either of them is a daunting task as is overestimating the importance of the genre of a string quartet in their creative output. With this program we will swing the doors wide open to this dual-chambered treasure cove with a performance of one of the very first string quartets that Beethoven ever wrote and one of the most dramatic creations by Shostakovich in this genre.
Beethoven’s cycle of six op.18 quartets, first of which is on this program, right away put him on the map as a new and powerful voice in the world of chamber music – a place which he kept ever since. This quartet is full of energetic zeal and witty play accomplished with direct simplicity, one of Beethoven’s signature traits. The sorrowful slow movement is rumored to have been influenced by the crypt scene from Romeo and Juliette.
On the much darker side of things, Shostakovich’s 8th quartet expresses with truly Beethovenian magnitude and power the tragedy and defiance of life in the post-World War II Soviet Union. Death and oppression of horrifying proportions witnessed, absorbed and interpreted through the lens of the composer’s sensitive soul and expressed with coherence and focus in 5 linked movements, this music has yet to find an indifferent listener.