Friday, October 31, 2014

Chamber Music's Many Moods, This Sunday

The KSO Principal Quartet will be presenting music of Shostakovich, Amaya and Beethoven for the Chamber Classics series concert, this Sunday at 2:30 at the Bijou Theatre.  It looks like the weather is going to be such that being inside a theatre is the correct and warm choice.

 The Amaya work, Angelica, is based on a legend of Charlemagne and is full of driving, Latin rhythms, but settles into a central lullaby that represents a sleep induced by the “hero” of the legend drinking from a fountain deep in the forest.  I’m sure that I cannot do a better job of describing the legend which inspired this work than the composer has done here.  I’ve discussed the intense Shostakovich 8th Quartet in an earlier blog (August 29th), so here is a little blurb about Beethoven’s op. 132 quartet in A minor.

The outer movements are stormy, bracing and moody, kind of like the weather currently.  (Snow tonight!? Ugggghh)  Just what you’ve come to expect from herr Beethoven.  The centerpiece of this work is the third movement, a study in contrasts between vigor and repose.  His own preface to the movement calls it this: “Song of thanksgiving in the Lydian mode, offered to the Deity by a convalescent.”  The joke is on us, however, as it’s not even in the Lydian mode!  The slower parts of this are solidly in F-major.  He simply doesn’t write any B-flats!   In fact, there are hardly any accidentals at all.  If it was truly in the Lydian mode, it would sound more like Bartok.  Starkly drawn counterpoint bordering on minimalism slowly morphs into a funky, lilting 3/8 Andante in D major.  There’s a mechanical busy-ness and syncopation to this section that hints at the Industrial Age exploding all around Beethoven, and a couple passages which to me sound an awful lot like reggae.  Then it’s back to the slower paced “song.”  And forth.  And back again.  Some comic relief comes with a march that gives way to a 1st violin recitative, setting the table for the nervously energetic finale.

Come see legendary quartets from three different ages on Sunday at 2:30!

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