Performances‎ > ‎

September 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Where: Norton Chapel at Keuka College - 411 Lake Avenue, Keuka Park NY 14478

    Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18 No. 2
    Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59 No. 3


About the Music (notes by David Brickman):

    Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 18, No. 2 (1798-1800) is perhaps his sunniest and is firmly rooted in the classical traditions of Haydan, who was Beethoven's composition teacher for a short time in Vienna. The work's nickname is the "Komplimentier-Quartet" which may be translated as the "Quartet of Bows and Curtsies" for the Old World elegance of the first movement, Allegro. The second movement, Adagio cantabile, is a slow song, mostly sung by the first violin. Surprisingly, it is interrupted by a rapid section based on a melody fragment from the slow music, which returns and closes the movement. The third movement is a Scherzo: Allegro which affords the first violinist the chance for bird-like twittering, punctuated with commentary by the rest of the aviary. The Finale is all virtuosity and humor. Haydn must have approved!

     The Andante con moto introduction to Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 59, No. 3 begins with a chord that must have shocked contemporary audiences who expected to hear thematic material in an unambiguous key.  The passage gropes its way searchingly through different keys, creating sense of being adrift, disoriented.  Salvation arrives suddenly in the two most basic “shave and a haircut” chords in C Major, that most basic of keys.  The first movement which follows is ebullient and expresses unalloyed joy.  The second movement, Andante con moto quasi allegretto, opens with stark “drum beats”, plucked on the lowest string by the ‘cello.  This sets the stage for a hushed and urgent melody in the first violin which alternates with sunnier episodes and a hypnotic, lullaby-like passage in the three upper voices.  The third movement, Menuetto (Grazioso) is simplicity itself, a warm hug expressed in music.  The middle section (called the “trio”) is an urgent fanfare.  The Menuetto is restated, but then a melancholy coda emerges and the movements ends with a harmonic “question mark”.  This question is answered immediately by the viola, who states the theme of one of Beethoven’s most rocking movements, the whirlwind fugue which closes the work.  Each player has a turn in the spotlight and rapid lines pass back and forth, almost quicker than the ear can hear!  There is a false ending (don’t clap yet!) and the piece ends in a grand and virtuosic style reminiscent of another great and joyful Finale, that of the great fifth symphony by Beethoven.    

    We are honored to be the first concert of the Inaugural Season of a brand-new chamber music series at Norton Chapel at Keuka College! Artistic Director Gaelen McCormick has put together a fantastic roster of performances for this glorious, acoustically resonant space, and we hope you'll help us kick off the season!