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UMS Concert Program, March 29, 1989: Emerson String Quartet --

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Season: 110th
Concert: Thirty-seventh
Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Emerson String Quartet
Wednesday Evening, March 29, 1989, at 8:00 Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Quartet in E-flat major, K. 428................................... Mozart
(Eugene Druckcr, first violinist)
Allegro non troppo Andante con moto Menuetto: allegretto Allegro vivace
Quartet No. 2 ("Intimate Letters") ............................... Janacek
(Philip Sctzer, first violinist)
Andante Adagio Moderato Allegro
Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2................................ Brahms
(Philip Setzcr, first violinist)
Allegro non troppo Andante moderato Quasi menuetto, moderato Finale: allegro non assai
The Emerson String Quartet is represented by Melvin Kaplan, Inc., Burlington, Vermont.
The Quartet has recorded for Book-of-the-Month Club, CRl, Smithsonian, and now records exclusively for Deutsche Gramnwphon.
Halls Cough Tablets, courtesy of Warner-Lambert Company, are available in the lobby. Thirty-seventh Concert of the 110th Season Twenty-sixth Annual Chamber Arts Series
Quartet in E-flat major, K. 428............... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The period between the summers ofl781 and 1783 was a momentous one for Mozart, marked by personal and artistic emancipation, success, and challenge. Emancipation came with the 25-year-old composer's decision not to return to Salzburg in 1781, nor to the domination of his employer Archbishop Colloredo and his teacher Leopold Mozart. Successes early on favored Mozart's conviction that he could "freelance" in Vienna, culminating a year later in the Burgtheater production of what became his most popular opera, Die Entjuhrung. As an encore, he married its soprano, Constanze Weber, in August of 1782, and was a new father by the next July, 1783. Challenges, precipitating a turning point in Mozart's style, were offered by Joseph Haydn in 1781 with his dazzling new Op. 33 ("Russian") Quartets and by Sebastian Bach in 1782 with the dazzling fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier.
The confluence of this disparate stimuli, together with Mozart's need to absorb and transform everything within his experience, resulted in a tremendous release of creative energy. One outcome was a set of quartets that was the "laborious" issue of the next two-and-a-half years. The first three quartets were completed around the birth ofhis first child, the second three early in 1785. Mozart arranged for Haydn to hear his efforts and, having acknowledged that Haydn taught him how to write quartets, subsequently dedicated all six "children" to his "celebrated and dearest friend" in the Ataria publication (designated Op. X). Truly impressed with Mozart's achievement, Haydn declared to Leopold that "your son is the greatest composer known to me" and insisted well into old age that he "never heard a work by Mozart without having learned something from it."
From 1782 on, what Haydn learned from Mozart was directly related to what Mozart learned from Bach. The catalyst was the Baron van Swietcn, Vienna's Imperial Librarian who, as Ambassador to the Prussian Court in the 1770s, heard about "old" Bach from the aging Frederick the Great and returned to Berlin with manuscripts of the Art of the Fugue, the forty-eight preludes and fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier, and the great works for organ. Drawn into van Swieten's aristocratic circle, Mozart attended the private Sunday afternoon sessions where only Bach and Handel were heard and arranged the threeand four-voice fugues from Volume II of the Well-Tempered Clavier for the Baron's string trio (K. 404a) and quartet (K. 405). For three years, Mozart struggled with the impact of Bach's North German genius on his South German sensibilities, with the consequence that nearly a third ofhis work during that interval was wholly or predominantly contrapuntal. Even in 1786, one ofhis students remarked that Mozart always had a copy of the "48" lying open on his clavier.
Mozart's hard-won mastery of polyphony enabled him to re-think the texture of the quartet in terms of truly independent voices, which was somewhat different from Haydn's concept of the "quatuor en dialogue" in Op. 33. But, like Haydn, Mozart sought always to wear his learning lightly and held in contempt those who did not. The high value he placed on "charm" and "naturalness" is amply evident in the Quartet in E-flat, despite its contrapuntal underpinnings.
The Allegro opens with a strong, unison gesture, announcing intentions of chromaticism that arc kept up throughout the next three movements; the second motive, by contrast, is a quiet little gruppetto figure. A concise development, in the minor, is introduced by a canonic restatement of the first motive, and the movement returns by sequences to a polyphonically structured recapitulation. The Andante offers an iridescent shimmer of Galant grace alongside an aching Romanticism, all contained in a few moments of surpassing beauty. With the simplest of melodic means, chromatic appoggiaturas, and slowly dissolving suspension dis?sonances, Mozart achieved an effect not unlike Wagner's Tristan prelude, with which it is frequently compared.
The Minuet is least typical of the "Haydn" set as a whole, and features an uncharacteristic accent on the second beat, irregular phrase lengths, and shifting drone-like accompaniments. While it may have been influenced by the Minuet of Haydn's own E-flat quartet in Op. 33, it also suggests the French pastoral Musette and the shepherds' bagpipes from which the name derives. The quartet closes with an Allegro vivace rondo of folk-like simplicity and humor, in which fioritura passage work is tossed between the instruments in the intervening sections and finally comes to rest in a conclusively stated, chordal finish.
-Sarah Davies, O 1984
Quartet No. 2 ("Intimate Letters") .......................... Leos Janacek
Janacek was born into a musical family in Czechoslovakia and educated as a choirboy in a monastery. It was only in his later years that he achieved recognition as a composer, and the second ofhis string quartets dates from the last year ofhis life (1928). It is a work of great vigor and dramatic passion, inspired by a love affair between the 74-ycar-old composer and a young
woman. Janacek felt that his emotions were so strong that even the music could not capture them. He wrote: "Sometimes my feelings are so overwhelming that the notes hide from them and flee. But I want it to be a great love -a great composition."
The first movement is colorful and proud, with moments of eerie expectation and great lyricism. The second movement is at first dominated by a passionate viola melody that appears in various transformations; then a gay theme in 58 rhythm springs out of the texture and is followed by further shifts of mood to a solemn close.
An arch structure forms the next movement, with a folk-like melody framing a central section that builds from gentle softness to a powerful climax of sound. The final movement is lively and ambivalent--joy alternates with anxiety, sweetness with aggression -and the work ends triumphantly.
--Jeremy Yudkitt, O 1981
Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2 ....................... Johannes Brahms
Throughout his career Brahms was aware of the immense achievement and somewhat overwhelming example that Beethoven had set for all nineteenth-century composers. It took Brahms twenty years from the time of his first sketches before he would allow publication and performance of his First Symphony, and toward the end of his life he went through all his compositions and destroyed everything he considered unsatisfactory or immature. This has led to the unusual (and inaccurate) picture we have today of Brahms as a composer without juvenilia.
We know that in his youth Brahms undertook several string quartets, but that he was dissatisfied with his early attempts at the genre. The two first quartets he was content to release to the public were those of Opus 51: the first in C minor and the second in A minor. They were published together in 1873, but were written some years apart and are very different in character. The first is powerful and stormy; the second, more relaxed and lyrical.
The opening movement of the A-minor quartet is flowing and serene, though piquancy is maintained throughout by the use of asymmetrical phrasing, constant variety of texture, and excursions to the major mode.
A lush, seductive quality rules the Andante. Schoenberg described this movement as having "subcutaneous beauties": the glow comes from within. The center of the movement contains moments of throbbing passion, but the prevailing atmosphere is maintained through to the hushed ending.
An insistent rhythmic figure gives impetus to the gentle Minuet. Instead of a Trio section, Brahms has supplied a lively, skittering allegretto. The Minuet returns at the end.
The final movement is pervaded by dance rhythms. The first theme has the character of a Hungarian folk dance, while the second is wafted along by a softer impulse. The central section develops these themes into a denser texture, whose climax is reached in a furious canon. A breathlessly restrained passage throws the final coda into sharp relief.
--Jeremy Yudkiti, O 1988
About the Artists
In a single decade, the Emerson String Quartet has become one of the most sought-after ensembles in the world today. The Quartet now divides its busy seasons between the United States, Europe, and the Far East. Recent highlights have included four complete performances of the Beethoven quartet cycle in the United States, triumphant debuts at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals, a return tour of Japan and a first tour of Australia, and the signing of an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
Only two years after its inception, the Emerson Quartet won the 1978 Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and in 1979 made its New York debut. In 1980, the Quartet became resident ensemble at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and in 1981 added a teaching and performance residency at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford. In 1982, the ensemble was named the first resident quartet of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and in 1983 joined the roster of the Aspen Music Festival. The Quartet continues to hold all four positions.
Recent world premieres of works written for the Quartet include compositions by Gunther Schuller, Ronald Cakabiano, and John Harbison. The ensemble has been the subject of two award-winning films: the nationally televised WETA-TV production "In Residence at the Renwick" and "Making Music: The Emerson String Quartet" by Vineyard Video Pro?ductions. In 1986, the ensemble's recording of "The Great Romantic Quartets" -works by Dvorak, Smctana, Brahms, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Debussy, and Ravel -was released by Book-of-thc-Month Club Records. The Quartet also recorded for Smithsonian and CRI Records before signing with Deutsche Grammophon.
The Emerson Quartet was formed in New York while its members were students at The Juilliard School. They took the name Emerson during the 1976 American Bicentennial year, in honor of the great philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. To this day, the Quartet continues its
original practice of alternating the first violinist chair during each of its concerts. All four members of the ensemble are active members of Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament and have presented benefit concerts for the cause of global peace and the fight against world hunger.
Eugene Drucker was born in 1952 and grew up in New York City. He received a B. A. degree in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and earned an Artist Diploma at Juilliard, where he studied with Oscar Shumsky. He has participated in the Marlboro Festival and appeared on two Music from Marlboro tours. A prize-winner in both the International Violin Competition in Montreal in 1975 and the 1976 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, he made his New York debut in 1976 as a Concert Artist Guild winner. Mr. Drucker is a former member of Speculum Musicae, the Andreas Trio, and the New York Chamber Soloists, and is currently a member of the Cantabile Trio. He plays an Antonius Stradivarius (Cremona, 1686).
Born in 1951 in Cleveland, Philip Setzer began violin studies at the age of five with his parents, both members of The Cleveland Orchestra. He continued with Josef Gingold, Rafael Druian, and Oscar Shumsky at Juilliard. In 1976, Mr. Setzer was a bronze medal winner at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels. He has participated in the Marlboro Music Festival and appeared as guest soloist with the National Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra. Mr. Setzer plays a violin made by Sanctus Seraphin (Venice, 1734).
Lawrence Dutton, born in New York in 1954, began studying music in the Long Island, New York, public schools. His teachers included Margaret Pardee, Francis Tursi at the Eastman School, and Lillian Fuchs at Juilliard, where he earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees. As a chamber musician, Mr. Dutton has played with the Orpheus Chamber Orches?tra, New York Philomusica, New York Chamber Soloists, the Guarneri andjuilliard Quartets, the Raphael Trio, and pianist Mischa Dichter and cellist Lynn Harrell. His viola is a Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza (Milan, 1796).
David Finckel began his training with his father and went on to study with Elsa Hilger, Bernard Greenhouse, and Mstislav Rostropovich. He made his orchestral debut at age fifteen with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has appeared with the Basel Symphony. In 1985, he was named the first New England ConscrvatoryPiatigorsky Artist. Mr. Finckel has been a member of more than a dozen chamber ensembles, including Music from Marlboro. He plays a J. B. Guadagnini (1754).
Remaining Concerts
Alicia de Larrocha, pianist.................................Thurs. Mar. 30
Schubert: Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 1; Schubert: Sonata in
A major, Op. 120; Espla: Three Dances, Op. 54; Montsalvatage:
Sonatina pour Ivctte; Turina: San Lucar de Barrameda
Stuttgart Wind Quintet ...................................Wed. Apr. 5
Dennis Russell Davies, pianist
Thuille: Sextet, Op. 6; Ligeti: "Six Bagatelles";
Bolcom: "FiveFoldFive" (1985); Poulenc: Sextet Munich Philharmonic Sergiu Celibidache................Thurs. Apr. 13
Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 ("Romantic") Note: This will be
the only work on the program, performed without intermission.
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Leonard Slatkin .........Thurs. Apr. 20
Steven Stucky: Dreamwaltzes; Haydn: Symphony No. 85; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10
96th Annual May Festival -April 26-29, 1989 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, 8:00 p.m.
Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig
Kurt Masur, Music Director and Conductor
The Festival Chorus, Donald Bryant, Director
Annerose Schmidt, Pianist
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Violinist
Gail Dubinbaum, Mezzo-soprano
Vinson Cole, Tenor
Hermann Baumann, Horn
Jessye Norman, Soprano
Stephen Bryant, Bass-baritone
J. Patrick Raftery, Baritone
Wednesday -Mendelssohn: "Ruy Bias" Overture; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4;
Schubert: Symphony No. 9 ("The Great") Thursday -Beethoven: "Leonore" Overture No. 3; Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1;
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F minor Friday -Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major; Mendelssohn: "Die erste Walpurgisnacht"
(Festival Chorus, Dubinbaum, Cole, Raftery, Bryant) Saturday -Strauss: "Four Last Songs" (Norman); Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1270 Telephone: (313) 764-2538

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