Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
THE UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAh
Guarneri String Quartet
ARNOLD STEINHARDT, Violinist MICHAEL TREE, Violist JOHN DALLEY, Violinist DAVID SOYER, Cellist
Sunday Afternoon, January 9, 1983, at 4:00 Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3 ("The Rider") ....................Haydn
Allegro Largo assai
Mcnuctto: allegretto Finale: allegro con brio
Quartet No. 3 in B-flat major, Op. 67 ..............................Brahms
Agitato (allegretto non troppo) Poco allegretto con variazioni -Doppio movimento
Quartet in G minor, Op. 10.......................................Debussy
Anime et tres decide Assez vif ct bien rythmc
Andantino doucement cxpressif
Tres modere, tres mouvemente, tres anime
RCA Red Seal Records
This program is the first of two performed in this series by the Guarneri Quartet to mark the sesquicentennial of the birth -May 7, 1833 -of Johannes Brahms.
The University Musical Society expresses thanks to Liberty Music Shop for its generosity and service to the community in underwriting the printing costs of this concert program.
Twenty-fifth Concert of the 104th Season Twentieth Annual Chamber Arts Series
Program Notes by Jeremy Yudkin
Quartet in G minor, Op. 74, No. 3 ("The Rider") ........Franz Joseph Haydn
Haydn's Opus 74 comprises three quartets which, together with the three quartets of Opus 71, were written in 1793 when there was no doubt that Haydn was a fully accomplished composer and a master of the string quartet form.
The G-minor quartet, Opus 74, No. 3, begins with an introductory eight measures whose bouncy grace-notes, together with the first movement's triplets and the off-beat accents of the finale, have contributed to the quartet's title: "The Rider." The first movement proper opens smoothly and with expressive chromatic inflections. The texture tautens, and then dissolves, before a graceful second theme appears. A central development section, ending in mid-air, leads into a varied restate?ment of the opening, and the movement slowly winds down before the crisp and dogmatic ending. The slow movement, Largo assai, in an unexpected key, is evocative and searchingly emotional. The profound expressiveness of this piece is heightened by rich textural contrast, stark harmonic colora?tion, and a deeply detailed control of rhythmic rhetoric. The movement seems to presage the introspection and personal utterance of the nineteenth century. The Minuet is restrained and serious, with four-square articulation. The central Trio returns noticeably to the minor mode, and its descending chromaticism is tinged with the sensibilities of the slow movement. The return of the Minuet highlights these gentle shadows and makes a perfect transition to the last movement. The Finale engenders a feeling of repressed intensity at its opening, despite thefcrio marking. The second theme is more lightheartcd, though breaks in the flow, long chords, and a wrenching descending passage in unison make for constant ambiguity. The development combines the main thematic ideas, intertwined counterpoint, and powerful declamation, with dramatic pauses and outbursts -all in a little over 30 measures of music. The recapitulation is constantly varied, and the sense of compression and intensity is carried through to the final strong chords.
Quartet No. 3 in B-flat major, Op. 67 .....................Johannes Brahms
Brahms left only three string quartets, though it appears that the self-critical composer, heavily conscious of the towering examples of the genre created by his forebears, wrote and destroyed many more in his early years.
The Quartet in B-flat, Opus 67, is the third and last of the quartets Brahms considered sufficiently accomplished to be bequeathed to posterity. It was written in 1876 and published the same year. By this time in his career, Brahms was artistically as well as financially secure. He had an international reputation and was even offered an honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge, though he refused the offer. His self-confidence may bejudged by the fact that he was working at the same time on a piece that was published the following year -the massive First Symphony in C minor.
This B-flat Quartet declines any longer to compete with Beethoven, as had the earlier quartets of Opus 51, but looks back affectionately to the work of Haydn and Mozart. The Quartet is a relaxed and lightheartcd composition, with a subdued pastoral character.
The first movement suggests the outdoors, with its bouncy opening melody and the dance-like feeling of the second theme. The central section is more densely wrought, with rhythmic and harmonic interplay, but the return of the opening leads back into the open air of the countryside. The Andante presents a flowing restful melody over a shifting unfocused background. There is a contrast?ing section of urgency and drama before the opening melody returns in the form of a nostalgic conversation between the high and low strings. The third movement is constructed as a Scherzo and Trio, with a warm and passionate viola line projected against the suppressed sound of muted strings. The Trio varies the texture with surging lines and rhythmic fragmentation. The coda brings a peaceful close in the major mode. A theme with the flavor of folk music is the subject of a series of variations in the final movement. Toward the end, the music of the opening of the quartet is heard once more, and then finally combined with the folk theme in a final synthesis of form and melody.
Quartet in G minor, Op. 10 ...............................Claude Debussy
Debussy composed his String Quartet in 1893 when he was thirty-one. It followed the tone poem after Mallarme's "L'Aprcs-midi d'un faune" and came just before the wonderful Trois Noc?turnes of 1895.
The first movement, Anime et tres decide, is tightly structural in effect, but rather loose and rhapsodic in detail. The first subject is based on a scale found in the modal music of the Russian folk idiom -a minor scale with a flatted second degree, the phrygian mode. The second subject is stated by the first violin over swirling accompanimental triplets from the other three voices. Its mood is characteristically more yielding and lyrical, thus providing contrast with the stormier first idea. The scherzo, Assez vifel bien rythme, begins with a few preliminary bars of pizzicati, but it is for the most part built up solely from the idea first stated by the viola. The slow movement, Andantino doucement expressif, might be described as a compendium of Franck's D-minor Symphony and Debussy's own "Clair de Lune." The principal theme, which appears in almost sunrise fashion, closely resembles Franck's best-known motif but its treatment is completely impressionistic in its yielding, atmos?pheric gentility. The trio section, an elaborate and deeply impassioned four-way conversation, is one of chamber music's most beautiful moments. A Tres moderc finale provides an exciting moto perpetuo conclusion to a wonderfully consistent, well-balanced work.
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