Monadnock Music


Lyndeborough

Thursday, August 3, 7:00 pm

Lyndeborough Center Church, 1143 Center Road, Lyndeborough, NH 03082
Concert will end at 8:20 pm, reception to follow.

Monadnock Music String Quartet Performers:

Charles Dimmick and Gabriela Diaz, violins

Noriko Futagami, viola

Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello

Musical Program:

Franz Joseph Haydn: String Quartet op. 50 #6 in D major "The Frog"

Allegro

Poco adagio

Menuetto. Allegretto

Finale. Allegro con spirito

Georg Friedrich Haas: String Quartet #2 (1998)

(intermission)

Aaron Copland: Two Pieces for string quartet

Lento

Rondino

Edward Elgar: String Quartet in e minor, op. 83

Allegro moderato

Piacevole (poco andante)

Allegro molto

Program Notes

One of the fundamental developers of classical music, Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) made a significant impact in the establishment of the forms and styles used in string quartets and symphonies. As a child, Haydn sang in a church choir and built a solid foundation in musical theory and performance. At only eight years, Haydn left his home for Vienna in order to sing in the choir at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After his time in the choir, Haydn struggled at first, before working his way up the musical ladder with convenient aid from other composers and musicians. Through various short-term positions, Haydn developed great skill in conducting and composition, especially in orchestral and symphonic settings. His last job, as conductor for the orchestra of the Esterházy family, finally allowed Haydn the time, environment, and financial support to pursue his compositional work in an unburdened manner.

String Quartet Op. 50, No. 6 in D major (c. 1787), earned its name "The Frog” from the employment of bariolage technique in the final movement. This technique requires the strings to play rapid repeated notes on two different strings. It is said that the quick alternation between the two resembles a leaping frog, and the identical pitches on the different strings reverberate like a frog’s croak. The quartet opens with Allegro, introducing two themes and a motif, the latter of which reoccurs in the fourth movement. The slower Poco adagio features elements of sonata form, theme and variations, and a lyrical main theme. The third movement, Menuetto: Allegretto, provides the minuet and trio with a vigorous rhythm and dynamics. Finale: Allegro con spirito provides not only the quartet’s namesake, but a sonata form and creative theme based around the single notes in the “frog” effect.

Georg Friedrich Haas (b. 1953) is an Austrian composer with signature microtonal elements in the majority of his works. Having extensively studied and revived microtonality (tones between the smallest musical interval, a half step, traditional in Western music) from the influence of Ivan Wyschnegradsky and Alois Hába, Haas is an international educator and guest lecturer on the topic. Haas’s compositions are fundamentally traditional, with his own flair for the new and different. His work in composition, literature, and education has made an impact throughout the world, and Haas is recognized by awards such as the Music Award of the City of Vienna, Music Award Salzburg, Young Composers’ Grant, and fellowships from the Salzburg Festival and German Academic Exchange Service for his innovation in the musical world.

String Quartet No. 2 (1998) needs no more than its single movement. Boasting Haas’s signature microtonal elements, the quartet is infused with tradition. An eerie entrance masks subtle melodies, and Haas describes the music as a “flickering sound picture.” Hauntingly lyrical, the quartet employs unique sounds to convey the difference between presence and distance. Due to the pace of the quartet, it can be difficult to hear the sounds come together, but each sustained tone flows into a larger idea. Despite the distinct voices of each instrument, they converge on sustained whole notes late in the quartet, before closing with the same eerie consistency as is elicited by the work as a whole.

American composer, conductor, and teacher Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is commonly considered the architect of the American sound in classical composition. Copland intertwines elements of jazz and folk into his innovative compositions, and is recognized for his individualization of American music from its previously heavy European influence. Copland learned piano at a young age, and began studying counterpoint and composition one on one with a music instructor. Copland spent time traveling through Europe, closely studying European composers, before returning to the U.S. and producing an array of esteemed compositions. Among his most popular are Piano Variations (1930), El Salon Mexico (1935), and the Pulitzer prize winning music to Martha Graham’s dance Appalachian Spring (1944). Copland broadened his compositional reach with his work in film. In 1939 he worked on Of Mice and Men and the next year was commissioned to compose a score for the film adaptation of Our Town.

Two Pieces for string quartet (1923, 1928) consist of Rondino and Lento. Copland wrote Rondino to honor Gabriel Fauré. In fact, the composition is structured around the French composers’ name, beginning with the notes G-A-B-flat. Five years later, Copland completed Lento Molto, which he paired with Rondino for a single performance. The coupling cohered, and from that point Rondino and Lento were published and performed as Copland’s Two Pieces for string quartet. The younger of the two, Lento, evokes quiet majesty, with abstract turns. Rondino features Copland’s technique in counterpoint and canonic composition, driven forward by his use of jazz elements and defined rhythms.

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was a self-taught English composer. Talented young Elgar played bassoon and violin, also spending time in the church scene as an organist and bandmaster. Without formal composition education, it was Elgar’s first large scale composition, Enigma Variations (1899), and the influence of conductor Hans Richter that exposed Elgar’s compositional talent to an audience outside his church and home. Elgar continued composing with a growing audience, albeit a slowly growing one. He produced many vocal works and established his signature colorful, bold orchestral publications. Elgar was knighted in 1904, just as his music was emerging in performance throughout Europe and the United States. Two major events, World War I and the death of his wife, put a temporary halt to Elgar’s production. It was not until the late 1920’s that Elgar revived his energy in composition, but he was unable to complete major works such as his opera, The Spanish Lady, before his death in 1934.

Elgar composed String Quartet in e minor, Op. 83, in the last days of 1918, and it premiered months later in London. The pointed rhythms of Allegro moderato initialize the quartet with intricate fluidity, but unconventional methods resolve the relationship between keys. The second movement, Piacevole (poco andante), provides a relaxing and warm ambience broken by bittersweet twangs until fitfully, the initial warmth fades away. Allegro molto brings a fiery energy back to the quartet. The power of the final movement is interrupted only briefly by a lyrical second theme before a bold melding of the themes rounds out the robust finale.

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