Preview – Alexander String Quartet Performs Mozart and Shostakovich at Baruch Performing Art Center (4/25)

Pieces:

  • W.A. Mozart:  String Quartet No. 23 in F major, K. 590
  • Dmitri Shostakovich:  String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108

Venue: Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center, Manhattan, New York

Performers:

  • Zakarias Grafilo, first violin
  • Fred Lifsitz, second violin
  • Paul Yarbrough, viola
  • Sandy Wilson, cello

The String Quartet No. 23 in F Major, K.590 was written in 1790. This piece is the third and last quartet of the so called ‘Prussian’ quartets dedicated to the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm ll. The king was a amateur cellist so I guest thats why Mozart made the cello part stand out from the other instruments. Mozart was not financially stable during this period,writing to Puchberg around 12 June 1790: ‘ I have now been obliged to give away my quartets (those very difficult works) for a mere song, simply in order to have some cash in hand to meet my present difficulties’. The quartets, published by Artaria in 1791, lack a dedication (Eisen and Keefe 2007, 184). I want to see how Mozart make the cello part stand out from the other instruments. I expect this piece to have a royal sound.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp major, Op. 108 was completed in March 1960. Shostakovich had just extricated himself from his unsuccessful second marriage, Shostakovich dedicated his seventh quartet to the memory of his first wife, Nina (Fay 2000, 215-16). This piece was performed by the Beethoven Quartet in Leningrad on May 15 1960 for first time. I wonder why the Alexander String Quartet choose to perform this piece in major key. I guess that Shostakovich choose that specific minor key for a reason and thats something I will discover when I hear this piece in both keys.

Bibliography:

Eisen Cliff, Simon P. Keefe. The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Fay, Laurel E. Shostakovich: A life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.