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SLSQ
Geoff Nuttall, violin  Lesley Robertson,  viola
Christopher Costanza, cello  Scott St. John, violin 


Saturday September 15, 2012, 8 p.m.

St. Lawrence String Quartet

About the Artists

Since its genesis in Toronto in 1989, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has developed an undisputed reputation as a truly world class chamber ensemble.  The quartet performs over 120 concerts annually worldwide and calls Stanford University home, where the group is Ensemble in Residence.  The SLSQ continues to build its reputation for imaginative and spontaneous music-making, through an energetic commitment to the great established quartet literature as well as the championing of new works by such composers as John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, Eziquiel Vinao, and Jonathan Berger.

Since winning both the Banff International String Quartet Competition and Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1992, the quartet has delighted audiences with its spontaneous, passionate, and dynamic performances.  Violist Lesley Robertson is a founding member of the group, and hails from Edmonton Alberta.  Cellist Christopher Costanza is from Utica, New York, and joined the quartet in 2003.  Violinists Geoff Nuttall and Scott St. John both grew up in London, Ontario; Geoff is a founding member and Scott joined in 2006.  Depending on concert repertoire, the two alternate the role of first violin.  

The St. Lawrence String Quartet has previously appeared under the auspices of Chamber Music Columbus on November 6, 2004 and October 20, 2007.  For more information, see the Quartet’s Web site at http://slsq.com/.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet appears by arrangement with David Rowe Artists, 24 Bessom Street, #4, Marblehead, Masschusetts 01945 (www.davidroweartists.com).   St. Lawrence String Quartet recordings can be heard on EMI Classics and ArtistShare (www.artistshare.com).

Joseph Haydn (born Rohrau, Austria, March 31, 1732; died Vienna, May 31, 1809)

Quartet in D minor, op. 76, no. 2 (H. III:76) (“Quinten”) (composed 1797)

Allegro
Andante o più tosto allegretto
Menuetto:  Allegro ma non troppo; Trio
Finale:  Vivace assai

After spending the early 1790s becoming famous in London, Joseph Haydn returned to Vienna for the last fifteen years of his life, a superstar, the greatest composer in Europe.  Back in Vienna, he resumed his duties as Kapellmeister to the court of the young Prince Nicolaus II, who much preferred the city to Eszterháza.  To fulfill his compositional duties to the court, Haydn devoted himself largely to masses and oratorios.
 
Among instrumental genres, only the string quartet continued to challenge him in his later years.  In 1797, he wrote his set of six Quartets, op. 76, dedicated to Count Joseph Erdődy; and in 1799, the two Quartets, op. 77, dedicated to Prince Josef Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz.  In 1803, he began his final quartet, but managed to compose only the central two movements before abandoning the effort.  When the incomplete work was published as Quartet, op. 103 in 1806, it included a verse from one of his favorite four-part songs, Der Greis (The Old Man):  “Gone forever is my strength, old and weak am I.”
 Flagging energy is nowhere to be found in the Quartet in D minor, op. 76, no. 2.  Its nickname, “Quinten,” is German for “fifths,” a reference to the recurring interval of the falling fifth, heard over eighty times in the “Allegro.”  With its gentle pizzicato accompaniment, the “Andante o più tosto allegretto” creates a strong contrast to the first movement.  After a minor key central section, the opening returns in a more ornate form, highlighting the first violin.  Known as the “Witch’s Minuet,” the third movement features a canon between the violins in octaves and the two lower strings also in octaves.  Returning to major, the “Trio” sets an odd melody against an ostinato.  The finale moves from a D minor sounding of its main theme to D major, concluding with a rising fifth that may be the last echo of the “Allegro.”

Osvaldo Golijov (born La Plata, Argentina, December 5, 1960)

Qohelet (composed 2011)

Born in La Plata, Argentina, to a family of Eastern European Jewish heritage, Osvaldo Golijov studied composition and piano before moving to Israel in 1983. In 1986, he came to the United States, studying with George Crumb and earning his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 1991, Mr. Golijov has taught at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and also serves on the faculties of the Boston Conservatory and at the Tanglewood Music Center. Members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Golijov met at Tanglewood in the summer of 1992. For the 2012-2013 season, Golijov is serving as Composer-in-Residence at Carnegie Hall.

“Qohelet” is the somewhat mysterious Hebrew title for the Book of Ecclesiastes. It is often translated as “The Preacher” or “the one who gathers together the congregation,” and has historically been identified with King Solomon.

“Qohelet“ received its world premiere by the St. Lawrence String Quartet at Stanford University’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium on October 23, 2011. It was co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Stanford Lively Arts with support from violinist, painter, pilot, and venture capitalist Kathryn Gould as part of the Magnum Opus project by Meet The Composer. Members of the quartet have indicated that they will introduce the work from the stage before the performance.

Franz Schubert (born Vienna, January 31, 1797; died Vienna, November 19, 1828

Quartet in G major, op. 161 (D. 887) (composed 1826)

Allegro molto moderato
Andante un poco moto
Scherzo: Allegro vivace; Trio: Allegretto
Allegro assai

In a March 31, 1824, letter to his friend and sometime librettist Josef Kupelwieser, Franz Schubert mused about his future.  Beethoven was soon to present a concert featuring his new “Symphony no. 9” and excerpts from his “Missa Solemnis.”  Schubert hoped that perhaps the next year, he could give a similar concert of his own works.  "I have done few new things in the way of songs but I have tried my hand at a number of instrumental pieces, for I composed two quartets and an octet and wish now to write another quartet.  In this way, moreover, I wish to prepare the way for the great symphony."  

As fate would have it, almost exactly four years would pass before Schubert held such a concert, the only one he ever presented of his own works.  March 26, 1828, also happened to be the first anniversary of Beethoven's death.  Schubert himself would be dead within eight months.  Between the letter and the concert, however, he had managed to write both "another quartet" and "the great symphony."  The latter, in fact, has come to be known as "The Great" Symphony in C major.  

The quartet in question is the “Quartet in G major, op. 161 (D. 887),” written in ten days during June 1826.  The movement of which he was most proud (and the one thought to be the most Beethovenian), the first, was on the program for that 1828 concert.  Not until more than two decades after the composer's death would the complete quartet be performed publicly, in Vienna on December 8, 1850.  It was published the next year.  

Unlike all of his previous quartets and virtually everything else he ever wrote, Schubert's “Quartet in G major” is not song-based.  It does not rely on horizontal, melodic lines but rather on vertical, chordal harmonic patterns.  For some listeners, it anticipates the music of Anton Bruckner.  

Both the first and final movements modulate between major and minor.  In the “Allegro molto moderato,” the struggle resolves in the recapitulation that follows the agitated development.  The rondo-form finale, “Allegro assai,” takes an even more boisterous approach to the major-minor tussle.  Between these two battlegrounds of the modes, the “Andante un poco moto” features a sad cello theme that later spawns passionate arguments between the first violin and viola.  The brief but formal scherzo (“Allegro vivace”) contrasts with the ländler-like, and emphatically G major, trio (“Allegretto”) that stands at the calm center of Schubert's otherwise shifting world.

Program notes by Jay Weitz, Senior Consulting Database Specialist for music, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Dublin, Ohio. He is a contributing performing arts critic for the weekly alternative newspaper “Columbus Alive” (http://www.columbusalive.com).