Santa Fe Pro Musica proudly presents the St. Lawrence String Quartet in performance at the St. Francis Auditorium (New Mexico Museum of Art), performing Haydn’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5, John Adams’ Second String Quartet and Schumann’s String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3. Hailed as “witty, buoyant, and wickedly attentive (The Gazette, Montreal), with a “peerless” sense of ensemble (Financial Times, London), the quartet is celebrated for its “smoldering intensity” (Washington Post), and “flexibility, dramatic fire and… hint of rock ‘n’ roll energy” (LA Times). Come and experience the energy!
WHAT | St. Lawrence String Quartet
Geoff Nuttall, violin
Owen Dalby, violin
Lesley Robertson, viola
Christopher Costanza, cello
WHEN | Sunday, February 7 at 2pm
WHERE | St. Francis Auditorium, 107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM
TICKETS | $20, $35, $48, $69 at the Santa Fe Pro Musica Box Office (505) 988-4640, ext. 1000, Tickets Santa Fe at The Lensic (505) 988-1234, or online at www.santafepromusica.com. Discounts for students, teachers, groups, and families are available exclusively through the Santa Fe Pro Musica Box Office.
MASTER CLASS | Santa Fe Pro Musica provides free master classes for area music students, both younger and older, and the general public. The St. Lawrence String Quartet will present a 90-minute dynamic instruction for selected string ensembles in front of an actively engaged audience. This give-and-take between audience, students and masters is always lively and inspiring. The Master Class with the St. Lawrence String Quartet will be held at the St. Francis Auditorium at 10am on Sunday, February 7. Free admission.
Photo Credit: L Roylance
About the Program
Franz Joseph Haydn | String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5
John Adams | Second String Quartet
Robert Schumann | String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No. 3
About the Composers
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, No. 5
As the novelty of the mid-18th century rococo style dissipated, with its light textures, clean lines, and superficial charm, the ideals of the Sturm und Drang movement took its place. Often labeled proto-romantic, this was originally a literary movement that dealt with the struggle of the individual, an exploration of darker subjects, a fascination with emotional turbulence and difficult sentiments, and a keen interest in the drama of the natural world.
Haydn’s six string quartets Opus 20 (1772) illustrate his early foray into the concepts of the Sturm und Drang movement. The String Quartet Op. 20, No. 5 presents a synthesis of the charming rococo style and the more intense Sturm und Drang practices. Haydn includes predictable and symmetrical melodies, but also asymmetrical phrases, displaced rhythms, and awkward silences.
This quartet’s first movement is in typical sonata form (exposition – development recapitulation), but Haydn adds impact through a calculated use of silence; breaking, suspending and delaying the music to great effect. The second movement Menuetto is a somber take on an elegant dance. Relief arrives with the slow movement Adagio, a wonder of refreshing charm featuring a delightful display of Haydn’s imaging of the variation form. For the last movement, Haydn digs back into the past and uses a fugue, an academically formal structure that is a clear rejection of the frothy decorative rococo style. Haydn’s use of this form adds new intellectual, textural and dramatic dimensions to the music. Within the context of chamber music, the contrapuntal demands of the fugue immediately renders all players equal as the music becomes not a melody with accompaniment, but a simultaneous progression of four independent melodies.
John Adams (b. 1947)
Second String Quartet
Both of John Adams’ string quartets were composed for the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Speaking of their working relationship, Adams says, “String quartet writing is one of the most difficult challenges a composer can take on… the demands of handling this extremely volatile and transparent instrumental medium can easily be humbling, if not downright humiliating. What I appreciate about my friends in the St. Lawrence is their willingness to let me literally ‘improvise’ on them as if they were a piano or a drum and I a crazy man beating away with only the roughest outlines of what I want. They will go the distance with me, allow me to try and fail, and they will indulge my seizures of doubt, frustration and indecision, all the while providing intuitions and brilliant suggestions of their own…”
The Second String Quartet is based on tiny fragments borrowed from Beethoven (“fractals” in the composer’s words). The first movement, for example, is based on two short phrases from the scherzo of Beethoven’s Opus 110 piano sonata. Like Adam’s First String Quartet, the second is organized into two movements. The first movement has a scherzo-like quality and should be played as fast as possible. The second movement begins with a gentle melody that is drawn from the opening movement of the same Opus 110 piano sonata. Like its original Beethoven model, the movement is characterized by emphatic gestures and a busy but friendly mood of activity among the four instruments.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41, No.3
Clara Schumann’s heart sank when her husband Robert announced in 1842 that he was working on a set of three string quartets. The quartet genre had never appealed to her. Nonetheless, she put on a brave face when he presented her with the scores as an anniversary present (along with a “sneak preview” performance) that September. “I cannot say anything about the quartets except that they delight me in even the finest detail,” Clara wrote in her diary. “Everything there is new, along with being clear, well worked out, and always appropriate for a quartet.”
Schumann wrote his three string quartets in a space of several weeks, with the third quartet dashed off in only a few days. In his letters and journals, he writes about his methodical preparation by studying the string quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. He was also acquainted with the quartets by Mendelssohn and dedicated the Opus 41 string quartets to him. Schumann made two demands of himself as the composer of string quartets: “First, the proper quartet should avoid symphonic furor and aim rather for a conversational tone in which everyone has something to say. Second, the composer must possess an intimate knowledge of the genre’s history, but should strive to produce more than mere imitations of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.”
The first movement of the String Quartet No. 3 is in sonata form and is rather delicate and subtle, with tempo and character directions like “espressivo” and “molto moderato” (very moderate) and the “use of a falling perfect fifth like a sensuous sigh.” The second movement is a theme and variations, curiously arranged with three variations before the theme ever appears. The third movement Adagio is the longest and most profound movement of the quartet and reveals Schumann’s characteristic “lyricism and rhapsodic romanticism.” Typical for Schumann, the finale sweeps away all that has gone before in a surge of kinetic vitality with a grand conclusion (Earsense Chamber Base).
About the St. Lawrence String Quartet
Geoff Nuttall, violin
Owen Dalby, violin
Lesley Robertson, viola
Christopher Costanza, cello
Established in 1989, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has developed an undisputed reputation as a truly world class chamber ensemble. The quartet performs internationally and has served as Ensemble in Residence at Stanford University since 1998.
The St. Lawrence 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, Ezequiel Vinao, and Jonathan Berger.
In late summer 2015, the quartet toured Europe with the San Francisco Symphony, performing composer John Adams’ “Absolute Jest” under the baton of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas for audiences the UK, Germany, Romania and Switzerland. As a grand finale of their tour, they performed at Carnegie Hall in New York. During the summer season, SLSQ is proud to continue its long association with the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.
The Quartet’s residency at Stanford includes working with music students as well as extensive collaborations with other faculty and departments using music to explore myriad topics. Recent collaborations have involved the School of Medicine, School of Education, and the Law School. In addition to their appointment at Stanford, the SLSQ are visiting artists at the University of Toronto. The foursome’s passion for opening up musical arenas to players and listeners alike is evident in their annual summer chamber music seminar at Stanford.
Lesley Robertson and Geoff Nuttall are founding members of the group, and hail from Edmonton, Alberta, and London, Ontario, respectively. Christopher Costanza is from Utica, NY, and joined the group in 2003. Owen Dalby, from the San Francisco Bay area, joined in 2015. All four members of the quartet live and teach at Stanford University in California.
For more information, please visit the St. Lawrence String Quartet’s website at https://www.slsq.com.
Read, Watch and Listen
David Rowe Artists | St. Lawrence String Quartet
Pre-concert talk with St. Lawrence String Quartet | Library of Congress
The Humor of Hadyn | St. Lawrence String Quartet | TEDxStanford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVaqBtWu_u0
About Santa Fe Pro Musica
Santa Fe Pro Musica, founded in 1980, is a non-profit performing arts organization dedicated to inspiring and educating audiences of all ages through the performance of great music. Pro Musica performs a varied repertoire, covering four centuries of music on modern and baroque instruments, including works for chamber orchestra, small ensemble and large-scale works for orchestra and chorus. In 2008, Pro Musica’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (chamber arrangement by Schoenberg) was nominated for a GRAMMY® award in the classical category of Best Classical Album/Small Ensemble. In August of 2012, Santa Fe Pro Musica Recordings produced a CD of Conrad Tao, pianist, performing Mozart Piano Concertos No. 17 and No. 25 and in 2013 produced a CD of music by Britten and Vaughan Williams. In addition to gaining national recognition over its 33 years for its artistry in performance, Santa Fe Pro Musica offers some of the most distinguished educational opportunities in northern New Mexico, reaching thousands of students every year with a Youth Concert series, a team-building, ensemble-training program, and a master class series featuring student ensembles working with world-class musicians.
For more information, please visit our website: www.santafepromusica.com
Santa Fe Pro Musica is grateful for the support of our sponsors and partners.