Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
THE UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Guarneri String Quartet
ARNOLD STEINHARDT, Violinist MICHAEL TREE, Violist JOHN DALLEY, Violinist DAVID SOYER, Cellist
Thursday Evening, February 19, 1981, at 8:30 Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Compositions of Bela Bartok
Quartet No. 2
Allegro molto capriccioso Lento
Duos for Two Violins
New Year's Greeting
Prelude and Canon
Dance from Maramaros
Ruthenian Kolemejka Dance
Quartet No. 5
Scherzo alia bulgarese Andante
Finale: allegro vivace
RCA Red Seal Records
102nd Season -Forty-second Concert Eighteenth Annual Chamber Arts Series
by Jeremy Yudkin
String Quartet No. 2..........Bela Bartok
The Second Quartet was completed in 1917 and starts out as one of Bartok's more lyrically sensuous works. The rich texture of sounding strings is fully explored, especially in the first movement. Here, at the outset, over an unfocused dark background, the first violin introduces a small rising motif that proves to be of central importance throughout the movement. Wafting tranquil musings are set against full-blooded and passionate statements in surging harmonies. Sometimes all four instruments play richly in unison. Towards the end the opening music returns, and the germinal motif is transformed into a lovely melody over plucked cello chords. A hint of disintegrating multiple tonalities precedes the tranquil close.
The A llegro is a wonderful combination of wild and vigorous gypsy dances. Each succeeds the other in seemingly random sequence, yet the movement is held together by hammered repeated notes on a single tone, and by ingenious thematic or rhythmic links between the melodies. The sprinkled pizzicali lend an air of impish festivity to the music. Peaceful interludes, tempo changes, and a breathless wispy section with mutes provide a constantly renewable sense of delight.
The final movement conveys a bleak and bitter mood. Whether expressed in thin and distant harmonies, or fuller, grimmer sounds, the scene surveyed is one of dusty desolation. The only point of reference is a viola-cello chordal cadence which occasionally recurs. A central section turns a two-note rising figure in the violins into a desperate outburst. At the end it can be briefly heard again: more gentle--wistful and resigned.
Duos for Two Violins...........Bartok
It was in 1931 that Bartok wrote his collection of forty-four Duos for two violins at the instigation of Dr. Erich Doflein. Doflein was a violinist and music teacher who had written a tutor for the violin and was engaged upon the compilation of an anthology of music for violin students. He approached Bartok, who had already been working for years on his Mikrokosmos for piano students, and asked him to write some violin pieces for the anthology. Bartok readily agreed, and soon began sending Doflein some duos. These were judged too hard for beginning students, and Bartok wrote more pieces that were similar in style but technically less demanding. Gradually throughout the course of the year Bartok refined his skill and wrote progressively easier pieces that were nonetheless musically and aesthetically satisfying. Finally the cycle was finished, and the 44 Duos, in reverse order of composition, now form a series of graduated studies designed to challenge and educate young players while still providing a compelling musical experience for the listener.
All the pieces are based on original folk material, with the exception of two for which Bartok composed new melodies in folk style. Many of the Duos use Hungarian traditional melodies, but almost all the peoples of Eastern Europe are represented. There are Romanian songs, Slovak, Serbian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, and even Arabic melodies.
In a preface to the German edition of 1933 Bartok advised selecting and re-ordering the pieces for concert performance, and the possible combinations and juxtapositions are, of course, almost endless.
What is remarkable is the constant sense of renewal and delight in these deliberately educational pieces. From the very limitations of scope and form are built miniatures of riveting musical fascination.
String Quartet No. 5...........Bartok
The twin concerns of variety and unity have been ones that have occupied composers from earliest times. Variety was never one of Bartok's difficulties. His expansion of sounds and colors
in string writing is one of the most remarkable features of the quartets; his ability to draw new material from small germinal motifs was endless; and the wealth of his musical ideas bursting with creativity. His concern with unity in the string quartets, however, manifested itself in many ways. One of the most successful of his solutions to this problem was the evolution of the "arch" form.
The Fifth String Quartet was written in 1934 and is in five movements. The outer move?ments are related both thematically and in their powerfully rhythmic declamation. Both are enormously rich in ideas and appear to be undergoing continuous development and expansion. (In the last movement a moment of satire depicts an out-of-tune barrel-organ before the forceful ending.)
The second and fourth movements are both slow and contain the twittering and eerie sounds that have been called Bartok's "night music." Contrasted with these are passages of full chordal harmony, or agitated disturbance.
The apex of the arch is the third movement (Scherzo) which is built out of irregular patterns cf metre and lively folk-tunes, the central trio section using mutes for a contrasting sketchy quality.
The quartet is marked throughout by the same expressive intensity, inventiveness, and fundamental seriousness of intent that characterize all of Bartok's works in this demanding medium.
About the Artists
The Guarneri String Quartet was founded in 1965 at Vermont's Marlboro Music Festival at the suggestion of the Budapest Quartet's second violinist, Alexander Schneider; its name was supplied by the Budapest violist, Boris Kroyt, who had once played with a European quartet called the Guarneri (after the 18th-century violin maker). Since then the Guarneri has established an enviable international reputation of the highest standards and praise, performing each season an average of 100 recitals on several continents. In New York alone, the Quartet presents annually over two dozen concerts in several series at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum, the 92r.d Street YM-YWHA, and at Carnegie Hall. It has also been featured on television and radio programs here and abroad, and its best-selling record albums have won many international awards.
Each of the Guarneri's four--and original--members is a virtuoso in his own right, and they played chamber music together frequently at the Marlboro and Casals Festivals before joining to form the Quartet. Arnold Steinhardt has been a winner of both the Leventritt and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Competitions, and made his solo debut at the age of fourteen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. John Dalley, a native of Ann Arbor, made his concert debut at the age of fourteen and toured widely throughout Europe, including Russia. Prior to joining the Quartet, he served on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory and was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Illinois. Michael Tree, noted both as a violist and violinist, made a Carnegie Hall debut at age twenty and performed as soloist with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Los Angeles, and at the Spoleto Festival. David Soyer, following a solo debut at the age of seventeen with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performed chamber music with the Bach Aria Group, the Guilet Quartet, and the New Music String Quartet. All are currently faculty members of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Arnold Steinhardt plays a violin made by Joseph Guarneri about 1728; John Dalley's instrument was made by Nicholas Lupot in 1819. The viola of Michael Tree was made by Dominicus Busan about 1785, and David Soyer's cello was made by Andrea Guarneri in 1669.
The Guarneri Quartet made its Ann Arbor debut in 1971, returning twelve times, including this evening's concert, since then.
Royal Ballet of Flanders.....Wed. & Thurs. Mar. 4 & 5
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater......Mon.-Wed. Mar. 9-11
Paul Plishka, Bass (replacing Martti Talvela) .... Tues. Mar. 10
Hakan HagegArd, Baritone (replacing Walter Berry, new date) . .Sat. Mar. 14 Songs of Schubert, Stenhammar, Ravel, Rangstrom, Martin, and Brahms.
New York Chamber Soloists........Sun. Mar. 15
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Andre Previn . . Thurs. Mar. 19
Haydn: Symphony No. 82 ("The Bear"); Ravel: Rapsodie Espagnol; Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band.......Mon. Mar. 23
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra Kurt Masur . . . Sun. Mar. 29
Mozart: Serenata Notturna, K. 239; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1 in F minor; Beethoven: Symphony No. 7.
Faculty Artists Concert.........Sun. Apr. 5
"Virtuoso Music for Wind Instruments."
Guarneri String Quartet (sold out)......Mon. Apr. 20
Western Opera Theater, "Elixir of Love" .... Thurs. Apr. 23
Ann Arbor May Festival, 1981
Wednesday-Saturday, April 29. 30, May 1, 2, in Hill Auditorium
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Eugene Ormandy, Conductor Laureate Aldo Ceccato, Guest Conductor
Judith Blegen, Soprano Ani Kavafian, Violinist
Gyorgy Sandor, Pianist
The University Choral Union
Faye Robinson, Soprano John Gilmore, Tenor
Katherine Ciesinski, Mezzo-soprano John Cheek, Bass
Wednesday--Ormandy and Blegen; Barber: Second Essay; Mozart: Exultate, Jubilate; Rach?maninoff: Vocalise; Stravinsky: Pastorale; Ravel: Habanera; Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5.
Thursday--Ceccato and Kavafian: Rossini: Overture to Semiramide; Bruch: Violin Concerto in G minor; Dvorak: Symphony No. 8.
Friday--Ceccato, Choral Union, Robinson, Ciesinski, Gilmore, Cheek: Mozart: Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter"); Rossini: Stabat Mater.
Saturday--Ormandy and Sandor: Harris: Symphony No. 3; Bartok; Third Piano Concerto, Concerto for Orchestra.
Series tickets still available at $40, $30, $20, $18; single concert ticket sale begins March 2.
"100 Years of Great Performances"
This brand-new publication of the University Musical Society is available in the lobby this evening for your perusal and purchase. In its 208 pages is a wealth of human interest and information, including: a 100th Season Anniversary Guest Book, handwritten greetings from each artist who performed that season; personal letters from nearly 200 artists who share reminiscences of their Ann Arbor performances over the years; a 100-year history tracing the Musical Society's growth from the small "Messiah Club" in 1879 to its present-day stature; and a roster of performing artists who appeared under our auspices from 1879 through 1979.
This anniversarysouvenir book is also available for purchase ($10 per copy) in our Burton Tower office, and at the following Ann Arbor locations: Borders Book Shop, Liberty Music Shop, and Little Professor Book Center.
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 Phone: 665-3717, 764-2538