BIOGRAPHY CONCERTS IN THE 2008/2009 SERIES ALL AT THE SHERWELL CENTRE AT 7.30PM Carducci String Quartet Prize winners in no less than seven International Chamber Music Competitions in the space of five years, the Carducci Quartet has quickly become recognised as one of Europe’s top young string quartets. Prizes include 1st prize at the 2004 Kuhmo International Chamber Music Competition in Finland, and other major awards at the Bordeaux, London, Osaka and ‘Charles Hennen’ competitions. Most recently, they were winners of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in New York. Graduates of the top music conservatoires in Britain and Ireland, they have studied with members of the Amadeus, Chilingirian, Takacs and Vanbrugh quartets, and are the current Richard Carne Junior Fellows at Trinity College of Music. As part of the ProQuartet professional training programme in France, they have studied with György Kurtag, Valentin Erben of the Alban Berg Quartet and Paul Katz. Following on from their critically-acclaimed 2006 Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall debuts for the Park Lane Group, the quartet has been invited to perform at numerous contemporary music festivals and societies, including The ‘Second Glance’ Festival in London, and the Cheltenham Contemporary Music Society. They recently established their own record label, ‘Carducci Classics’, which launched with a CD of Haydn String Quartets. Two discs featuring twentieth-century works by Graham Whettam, Joseph Horovitz have recently been released, with one by the late Irish composer, Bryan Boydell, to follow shortly. The Carduccis have also recorded (Vivaldi and Piazzolla) with the Katona Twins Guitar Duo for Channel Classics. Tours abroad have taken the quartet to France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Italy, where after performing numerous concerts at the Castagnetto-Carducci Festival, the quartet adopted the name “Carducci” with the blessing of the Mayor. Highlights last season included a residency at Aldeburgh, the launch of their own festival in Highnam (Gloucestershire) and performances in the Verbier, Kilkenny, Three Choirs, Exeter and Kings Lynn festivals. Future projects include their Carnegie Hall debut, further performances at the Wigmore Hall and tours in Portugal and Japan. The quartet’s educational work continues with performances for school children sponsored by the Cavatina Chamber Music Trust, and West Cork Music. They also run their own music courses in France for young musicians, and have a strong link with the Gloucester Academy of Music. They were recently appointed Quartet-in-Residence at the Cork School of Music in Ireland. CARDUCCI STRING QUARTET Saturday 4 October 2008 GOULD PIANO TRIO Saturday 25 October 2008 VICTORIA SIMONSEN (Cello) BENJAMIN POWELL (Piano) Saturday 15 November 2008 SALLY PRYCE ENSEMBLE (Harp, Violin, Viola, Cello & Flute) Saturday 6 December 2008 FLOTILLA (Saxophone Quartet with Piano) Saturday 17 January 2009 HEROLD STRING QUARTET Saturday 7 February 2009 JAKOB FICHERT (Piano) OLIVER COATES (Cello) ANNA DENNIS (Soprano) Saturday 21 February 2009 NAVARRA STRING QUARTET Saturday 28 March 2009 ENDELLION STRING QUARTET Saturday 25 April 2009 Carducci String Quartet Matthew Denton (Violin) Michelle Fleming (Violin) Eoin Schmidt-Martin (Viola) Emma Denton (Cello) Concert details can be found on the website: www.plyclassical.co.uk and also on www.plymouth.ac.uk/events to which programme notes will be added prior to each concert. 7.30pm Saturday 4 October 2008 at the University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre Plymouth Chamber Music Trust ...the ‘Wigmore Hall Experience’ without the hassle! STRING QUARTET IN D MAJOR, OP 50 NO 6 ‘The Frog’ Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1819) Allegro spirituoso Poco adagio Menuetto: Allegretto Finale: Allegro con spirito Haydn had contemplated a new set of six string quartets as early as 1784, two years after the publication of his ‘Russian’ quartets, Op 33. The set of six that form Op 50, the so-called ‘Prussian’ quartets, dedicated to the cello-playing King Frederick William II of Prussia, were written in 1787, and occupy an important position in the development of the genre, reflecting the influence of Mozart’s six quartets recently dedicated to Haydn, themselves the product of the latter’s study of Haydn’s work. With Mozart’s move to Vienna in 1781, there had come about a more personal contact between the two composers and reciprocal influence and respect that allowed Haydn to develop the string quartet still further, while ceasing to use forms that Mozart had made his own, notably the concerto and opera. Sixteen years later it seems that Beethoven’s first excursion into quartet territory led Haydn finally to abandon it. The set ends with the Quartet in D major, Op 50, No 6, known as The Frog from the alternating of strings on the same note, the device of bariolage, used in the last movement. It has also earned itself the nicknames of The House on Fire and The Row in Vienna, sobriquets which, however popular at one time or another, now seem increasingly inept. The quartet seems about to start in another key, before D major proper is established. Basically monothematic, the movement finds an important place for the opening motif of six notes, both in the repeated exposition and in the central development and recapitulation. The slow movement is in the tonic minor, its principal theme soon transformed into a brighter F major. The central section of the movement shifts at first into D flat major, before a further modulation that brings running notes in the accompaniment of the opening minor theme, soon to return as a second subject, now in D major. ‘Skipping’ rhythms mark the melody of the Minuet, with its Trio, bringing a melody with repeated notes perhaps remembered from the Adagio. After the customary repetition of the Minuet, the last movement starts with first violin bariolage, making use of fingered notes and the open A, E and D strings in that order. These, and similar other uses of alternating strings, are a principal feature of a movement of considerable originality, where the faster repeated notes suggest those of the preceding two movements. Though again essentially monothematic, whilst the finale falls into the customary three structural sections, it still manages to provide elements of surprise and ingenuity along the way. From the mid 1960s to the early 90s Glass completed eight String Quartets, though the three earliest have been withdrawn, presumably as student works. He speaks for the majority of his fellow composers down the ages when he explains, ‘It’s almost as if we say we’re going to write a string quartet, we take a deep breath and we wade in to write the most serious, significant piece we can’. His five string quartets, as a whole, exhibit the intense introspection that this genre, perhaps above all others, inspires. From the later quartets of Haydn, through Mozart, Beethoven and the Romantics and onwards to Bartók, Shostakovich and Hindemith in the Twentieth Century, the string quartet has held composers in its thrall. Glass’s string quartets happily flaunt their influences which extend from Bach to Shostakovich, but range well beyond the musical sphere, delving deeply into virtually every major art form. Glass has always responded instinctively to extra-musical sources: painting, film, theatre, dance and literature are constant catalysts for his inspirations and enquiring mind. The early death from complications of HIV/AIDS of the artist, Brian Buczak, was the spur for Glass’s String Quartet No 4, ‘Buczak’. Together with the quartet’s commissioner, Geoffrey Hendricks, Buczak had established the Money for Food Press, initially as a vehicle to further their art practices. The MfFP traced its roots back to the New York-based early multi-media experiments of the Fluxus art movement of the 1960s, and one of Hendricks’s early ‘Cloud’ images was, in fact, appropriated for John Lennon’s Imagine album. Written for a memorial concert in 1989, Glass wanted his fourth quartet to represent, ‘a musical impression of [Buczak] as a person as well as a tribute to his life’s work’. The quartet opens with a broad, almost Schubertian sweep before the composer’s familiar pulse gently introduces itself. Touches of Schubert and Beethoven pervade the quartet while Glass produces an astringent lyrical beauty, most notably in the second movement, that well befits a heartfelt memorial. The work is cast in three separate, though untitled movements. STRING QUARTET NO 4, ‘Buczak’ Philip Glass (born 1937) STRING QUARTET IN C MAJOR, OP 59 NO 3 (‘Razumovsky’) Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) Introduzione: Andante con moto – Allegro vivace Andante con moto quasi Allegretto Menuetto: Grazioso Allegro molto Beethoven began concentrated work on his second set of string quartets in 1806, although preliminary sketches of the themes dated from an earlier time. Several years had elapsed since his first collection of six quartets was published in 1800 as Op 18. This intervening period brought a dramatic change in Beethoven’s personality and musical style. The tragic onset of deafness compelled him to withdraw from society rather than admit his infirmity, with the breadth and emotional depth of his compositions growing in relation to the intensity of his inner turmoil. With the creation of the three Op 59 quartets, however, Beethoven began to accept his disability, writing among the musical sketches, ‘Let your deafness no longer be a secret – even in art’. The Op 59 commission came from Count Razumovsky, ambassador of the Russian Tsar in Vienna, and an amateur violinist who frequently participated in performances of Haydn’s quartets. After 1808 he provided financial support for the Schuppanzigh Quartet, an ensemble that gave premieres of several of Beethoven’s quartets. Razumovsky remained one of Beethoven’s principal patrons until a fire destroyed his palace in Vienna on December 31, 1814, and he returned to Russia. These three quartets were the first works written for Razumovsky, who stipulated that Russian folk tunes should be employed. Beethoven incorporated actual folk songs in the first two quartets and composed an original melody in folk style for the third. The ‘Razumovsky’ quartets are composed on a broader, more symphonic scale than in Beethoven’s earlier collection. This quality contributed to their ambivalent reception, as reflected in a review in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (February 27, 1807): ‘Three new, very long and difficult Beethoven string quartets, dedicated to the Russian ambassador, Count Razumovsky, are also attracting the attention of all connoisseurs. The conception is profound and the construction excellent, but they are not easily comprehended’. The third quartet of Op 59 is in conventional four-movement form with a minuet in third place. Despite this nod in the direction of conservatism, the opening of the first movement seems distinctly discordant and takes a while to reach the main Allegro subject-matter in the tonic key, sharing a clear parallel with the opening of Mozart’s earlier ‘Dissonance’ quartet, also in the same key. The extensive slow movement in A minor, a somewhat rare key for Beethoven, opens with a gently-lamenting melody on the first violin, above a pizzicato cello, and visits a number of distant keys, signifying differing degrees of expression of the composer’s extreme grief and depression. At the end of the charming Menuetto, which recalls the quartet tradition of Haydn and Mozart, a coda ensues, which echoes some of the tonal instability first heard back in the Introduction, before ushering in the last movement, a cunning combination of sonata and fugal elements, in what becomes a dazzlingly virtuosic perpetuum mobile. Programme Notes by Philip R Buttall INTERVAL OF 20 MINUTES Tickets for the GOULD PIANO TRIO at the Sherwell Centre on Saturday 25 October, and for the remaining concerts in the season, will be on sale during the interval.