Quartet Returns With Fun Program

World-class Fine Arts Quartet with play Glazunov and Beethoven at his most genial.

By - Mar 7th, 2023 10:08 am
Fine Arts Quartet (L to R, Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Gil Sharon, Niklas Schmidt

Fine Arts Quartet (L to R, Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Gil Sharon, Niklas Schmidt

The Fine Arts Quartet makes the first of its 2023 Milwaukee appearances on Saturday, March 11, when the ensemble performs a free concert at the UW-Milwaukee Zelazo Center. Members of the quartet – Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Gil Sharon, and Niklas Schmidt – will be joined by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra cellist Madeleine Kabat.

Chamber works by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) and Alexander Glazunov (1865 – 1936) are on the program.

Beethoven’s String Quartet in D, Opus 18, No. 3, is the first of 16 string quartets he composed during his lifetime. Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz, a Viennese aristocrat, commissioned the six quartets comprising Opus 18 in 1798.

Described by an acquaintance as “the most foolish music enthusiast,” Prince Lobkowitz was a critically important patron to Beethoven. When Beethoven was offered a job as Kapellmeister at Cassell, Germany by Napoleon’s brother, Jérôme Bonaparte, Prince Lobkowitz and two wealthy friends guaranteed Beethoven a handsome annual salary if he agreed to stay in Vienna. Beethoven accepted, expressing his gratitude by dedicating his third, fifth, and sixth symphonies to the prince.

Musicologist Kai Christiansen writes that for Beethoven, who greatly admired the string quartets of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Opus 18 was “a rite of passage, a daring moment to entertain a dialog with colleagues, mentors and gods… Of the six quartets in Op. 18, the D Major quartet [No. 3] is certainly the most genial and, in a sense, relaxed. Its mood is bright, lyrical and humorous with just a touch of poignancy in the slow movement… Beethoven simply writes an extraordinary string quartet in the finest style.”

Ms. Kabat will join the quartet for the performance of the romantic String Quintet Opus 39 by Glazunov, scored for two violins, one viola, and two cellos. Born in St. Petersburg, Glazunov began studying composition privately with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov at the age of 15. He wrote symphonies, instrumental sonatas, ballets, operas, and seven string quartets, and served first as an instructor and later as head of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Glazunov left the Soviet Union for France in 1928.

Chamber music critic Wilhelm Altman described the four-movement Quintet, published in 1891, as “illustrative of [Glasunov’s] superb ability to achieve great tonal beauty.” Writing in, Zoran Minderovic observes that “while Glazunov’s music certainly fits into the cosmopolitan culture of his time, it also embodies the unmistakable emotional and spiritual qualities that the attentive listener will recognize as Russian.”

Saturday’s performance at the Zelazo Center, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., begins at 7 p.m. with a pre-talk at 6 pm. Thanks to the sponsorship by the Friends of the Fine Arts Quartet in collaboration with the Peck School of the Arts at UWM, the concert is free, with no tickets or reservations required.

FAQ fans will want to mark their calendars for 3 p.m. Sunday, July 9, and Sunday, July 16, when the quartet returns to Milwaukee to perform free public concerts as part of a summer festival.

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