Saturday 19 September 7.30pm
Venue: Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall
Ludwig van Beethoven - String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op.18, No. 1
Josef Suk - Piano Quartet in A Minor, Op.1
César Franck - Piano Quintet in F minor
Katya Apekisheva piano Simon Blendiss and Charlotte Scott violins
Matthew Jones and Jon Thorne violas Tim Lowe cello
Biding his time before launching into the string quartet genre – given that Haydn was still at the height of his powers – Beethoven bit the bullet in 1798 and by1801 his set of six quartets were published as Op. 18. The F Major quartet is the most well developed and has the greatest expressive range of the six, has a tragic slow movement inspired by Romeo and Juliet and further put the young Beethoven into the public eye. Here he shows us his distinctive voice and already prefigures his later quartet style.
Suk's Piano Quartet was the result of an assignment from his teacher at the Prague Conservatoire, Anton Dvorak. The seventeen year-old had produced under the illustrious composer’s eye a gem, signalling his distinctive voice, despite shades of Dvorak from time to time. Promptly assigned as his Op. 1 the piece was published immediately and became a staple of Czech repertoire and was widely performed. It was recently republished having gone out of print for over fifty years so here is a chance to hear this passionate and tenderly lyrical piece.
From the organ loft of St. Clothilde Cathedral in Paris César Franck garnered admiration as founder of a distinctive ‘Frankist’ school which can be traced down to Messiaen and Boulez, although for over forty years he produced no chamber music. His piano quintet marked a dramatic departure in musical style for the erstwhile rather demure composer. This would seem to have had a strong connection with an extra-marital romance with his dashing Irish student Augusta Holmès (also beloved of Saint-Saëns, Liszt and others). The Piano Quintet in F minor, first performed in 1880 is passionate, even erotic, in mood. It certainly made an impact. Saint-Saëns, the pianist at the premiere walked off the stage (he was also fond of Augusta) and his wife yelled out against this ,”abhorrent music”. It is in fact one of the great masterpieces of French music.
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