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: Baruch Performing Arts Center – Newman Vertical Campus
Baruch College: 25th St. (bet. 3rd and Lexington Aves.), NYC
Performers: The Alexander String Quartet
String quartet No. 23 was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last string quartet. It was one of three that “was dedicated to the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhem II”(Kenyon,228). The three string quartets dedicated to the king where No. 21 in D K575, No. 22 in B flat K589,and No. 23 in F K590. These were otherwise known as the “Three Prussian Quartets” (Kenyon 228). The king was a cellist, therefore Mozart intended to give the king a starring role in the pieces where he can play the cello, capturing the audiences attention. Mozart purposely introduced the cello later in the piece where it is “high in its register, so it could hardly fail to be noticed”(Kenyon, 228). Mozart added roles for the king in the tenor to show off his skills(Kenyon, 228).
Before creating these three quartets, “Mozart gave a concert on May 26, 1789” ( Kenyon, 228). This concert was not a complete success. Therefore, after meeting the some cellist and the King, he came up with the string quartets including the king. These three quartets succeeded and brought more fame to Mozart.
I found it quite unusual and rather interesting that we would hear the cello clearer instead of it being in the background. The melody seems to be embraced by the sound projected by the cello and of course this is to show the kings talent. But, it is interesting and it does create a rich sound because the cello is woody, the pitches are moderately low, and sounds very strong and royal. I would definitely find more enjoyment listening to the music because it gives me a chance to imagine a story that goes along with the piece; Although, Watching the performance would give me the pleasure to watch the performers and how they interject emotion into the piece.
Dmitri Shostakovich is a soviet russian composer and pianist, who was born in 1906 and died in 1975. One of his popular string quartet was No. 7 opus. 108. Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this specific one for his first wife Nina. This piece intends on capturing his memories of his wife, although “it is short, it was one of his most poetic works” (Moshevik, 161). Although, this was a beautiful piece, it “had a spooky characteristic” (Moshevik, 161).
This piece is very interesting, it gives a mysterious and spooky feeling. There is a lot of suspense, which makes the string quartet No. 7 so exciting. When the piece begins playing the second theme, it is pleasant and soft. I found it very unusual and special that there was pizzicato in this piece. For this specific string quartet, I would like to watch the performance live rather than listening to it. This is an intense and exciting performance, and watching the performers playing and their emotions would make the experience and the music more entertaining and memorable.
Kenyon, Nicholas. The Pegasus Pocket Guide to Mozart. New York: Pegasus Books LLC, 2006. Page 228.
Moshevik, Sofia. Dmitri Shostakovich, Pianist. Canada: Mc-Grill Queens University Press, 2004. Page 161.