Fall Music Season Offers Rare, Enchanting Works
The Fine Arts Quartet will deliver a recent adaptation of Haydn’s Seven Last Words.
The Fall chamber music season gets underway this weekend with several major, but rarely performed works. The Fine Arts Quartet will play a single work on Sunday afternoon – Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ featuring an intimate approach to an intensely religious work. Soprano Ruth Rosique will join the quartet.
On Monday and Tuesday evening, the Prometheus Trio will play two works including a symphony recast by Beethoven for piano trio – Beethoven’s Second. Also, we’ll see an ambitious trio by a little known French composer – Gabriel Pierné.
The words attributed to Christ at the crucifixion cover a range of sentiments including “Father, forgive them” to “Father, why have you forsaken me?” to “I thirst” and ending with “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” The musical interludes include eight sonatas matched to the dramatic words. Haydn ends the work with a musical earthquake.
Later, Haydn wrote a version with a chorus and collaborated in a rendition for string quartet. The Fine Arts Quartet will play a recently adapted version that adds a soprano voice in between segments and occasionally into the quartet’s sonata sections, as well.
Cellist Robert Cohen calls the work “a monumental piece … a religious experience.” He finds that the quartet version allows for “incredible purity” exposing the tension, angst and heart breaking emotions of the spiritual journey.
Soprano Ruth Rosique has appeared on more than 20 albums and has performed leading roles in a wide range of operas, mostly within 500 miles of her home base in Spain. So, she has a reputation in Europe, but is little known in the United States.
YouTube samples of her singing suggest complete vocal control, especially of the highly decorated phrases common in Baroque and Classical eras. Her voice is strong, but completely at ease in the upper registers.
Cowen praised Rosique for her ability to forgo operatic tendencies and to join the quartet as an ensemble member. He calls her an “exceptional artist … with great presence and flexibility.” Adding that she is “able to sing in an instrumental way.”
The Prometheus Trio (pianist Stefanie Jacob, violinist Timothy Klabunde and cellist Scott Tisdel) will not try to sound like an orchestra while performing Beethoven’s Second Symphony. Beethoven wrote a Trio version that is true to the design of the symphony — a “re-imagining of the work’s possibilities,” according to Jacob.
The result, she says, “has all the energy of the original: propulsive, full of joy and drive.” This is especially true of the challenging, driving piano element. A melodic larghetto and a capricious dance offer contrast to the very high-energy open and closing movements.
An early 20th century composer, organist and conductor, Pierné wrote several operas, choral and symphonic pieces, as well as a good deal of chamber music. Jacob describes his Trio for violin, cello and Piano, Op 45 (1922) as adapting the forms of César Franck and the atmospherics of Gabriel Fauré. This trio is also a monumental work, but not through energy and symphonic momentum. Jacob describes “a darkly brooding ostinato” introduced at the start that returns in each movement. Three themes recur within sonata development, a “long and very beautiful” calm episode, a lilting folk-like dance and inventive variations to close the work.
The Fine Arts Quartet will play at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Zelazo Center at 3:00 PM on Sunday, September 21st. A pre-talk will be offered at 2:00 PM. Hear a world-class quartet based in Milwaukee for a bargain $10 per ticket. For ticket information see the UWM Peck School website or call (414) 229-4308.
The Prometheus Trio will perform on two nights – Monday, September 22nd and Tuesday, September 23rd at 7:30 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on Prospect Avenue. For ticket and free parking information see the WCM website or call (414) 276-5760.