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Fry Street Residency, April 5-12

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fry Street Quartet

The Fry Street Quartet Residency is presented in collaboration with the University of Iowa Office of Sustainability and the University of Iowa College of Public Health. We would also like to thank Hotel Vetro and the New Pioneer Food Co-op for their support of this residency.

All events are free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Master Class – 3:30-5:15 pm – Walder Hall, Preucil School of Music, North Campus

The Fry Street Quartet, including Fry violist Bradley Ottesen who is a Preucil School of Music alumnus, works with advanced chamber groups from the Preucil School of Music.

supported in part by funding from the University of Iowa Arts Share

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Crossroad Project – 7:30 pm – Callaghan Auditorium, UI College of Public Health (limited seating)

The Fry Street Quartet joins physicist and educator Dr. Robert Davies in an evocative performance combining music, information, imagery-and a dash of theater-merging intellectual with visceral, taking us from understanding to belief. The performance introduces a new string quartet by noted composer Laura Kaminsky, along with original works by painter Rebecca Allen, internationally-recognized environmental photographer Garth Lenz and Utah sculptor Lyman Whitaker.

For more information on The Crossroads Project click here.

Recommended parking – Newton Rd. Parking Ramp

This performance is made possible in collaboration with the UI Office of Sustainability and the UI College of Public Health.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Studio Backstage |Under the Hood - 12:30 -1:20 pm - UCC Recital Hall

Join the members of the Fry Street Quartet, composer Laura Kaminsky and physicist and educator Dr. Robert Davies for a behind-the-scenes discussion as to how they developed their innovative Crossroads Project.  Explore the rewards and challenges of developing. marketing and presenting meaningful and effective interdisciplinary programming.

presented in partnership with The Studio

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fry Street Quartet Chamber Music Master Class - 11:30 -1 pm –  UCC Recital Hall

Join the Fry Street Quartet as they work with University of Iowa chamber music students.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fry Street Quartet Quartet Concert – 7:30 pm – Riverside Recital Hall

Haydn Op. 76 #3 “Emperor”
Janacek String Quartet No. 1 “Kreutzer Sonata”
Beethoven Op.59#1

Friday, April 11, 2014

Laura Kaminsky Lecture – 3:30 pm Electronic Music Studio 221 Becker

Laura Kaminsky talks about her music and her compositional process.

Friday, April 11, 2014

WorldCanvass - 5 pm –  Old Capitol Senate Chamber

The Fry Street Quartet, Dr. Robert Davies and Laura Kaminsky join WorldCanvass host Joan Kjaer to explore issue related to climate change and sustainability.  Other guests will include UI Provost Barry ButlerBob Libra (Iowa Geological and Water Survey), Dave Osterberg (UI College of Public Health), Chuck Connerly (UI School of Urban and Regional Planning), Liz Christiansen (UI Office of Sustainability) and Elizabeth Oakes (University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program)

Program Notes by Arthur Canter

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
String Quartet in C, Op.76 No.3 (“Emperor”)

In 1795 Haydn returned from his second visit to London where he had had great success with his new symphonies. He had written the works to be performed by professional musicians specifically for public audiences.  He was now encouraged to incorporate new elements into his other compositions as well. Thus, when he was commissioned by Count Joseph Erdödy in 1796 for a set of six quartets, he used the opportunity to try out his ideas. However, these quartets were to be performed in distinguished salons, not public concert halls.  They were to be for Erdödy’s exclusive use until they were published in 1799 as Opus 76 and dedicated to the Count. The C-major quartet, the third of the set that is in today’s program, has been called the “Emperor Quartet” and owes its popularity to its slow movement, five variations on the Austrian  Anthem, Gott enhalte Franz den Kaiser.  Haydn had written the hymn used for the anthem in 1797 as his tribute to the emperor. It was used as a rallying-point for the discouraged Austrians who were facing invasion by Napoleon’s armies at the time. On February 12, 1797, the anthem was sung simultaneously at the National Theater in Vienna and in the principal theaters in the provinces. Its melody continued to be Haydn’s favorite work. As he began to experience the infirmities of old age he would often console himself by playing it over and over on the piano.

The first movement (Allegro), in sonata form, is developed in a skittering bouncy fashion around its opening five-note theme. In one episode it sounds like a peasant dance to a drone  accompaniment.

The second movement (Poco adagio, cantabile) , as indicated in the foregoing, develops the “emperor” melody embellished by a series of variations that are passed among the four instruments and ending in a noble statement that unites the instruments  as a single voice.

The Menuetto (Allegro) portrays a richly textured noble dance  typical of Haydn’s use of the genre. The trio section provides a rather tender interlude before returning to the original assertive dance steps.

The  Finale (Presto) is full of bold statements with its change in the tone mode (from major to minor), an innovation at the time that was characteristic of Haydn’s  explorative nature.

Leoš Janáček ( 1854-1928)
String Quartet No.1 “Kreutzer Sonata”

The Moravian composer Janáček’s early musical education was both choral and religious. At the age of 11, he became a chorister at the Augustinian “Queen’s” Monastery in Old Brno where Moravia’s leading composer, Pavel Krizkovsky, took an interest in his musical education. He studied at the Prague Organ School (1874-75) and then returned to Brno to resume his teaching, conducting the monastery choir and the Svatopluk Choral Society (from which he resigned in 1876). He studied at the Leipzig Conservatory (1879-80) under Oskar Paul and Leo Grill and then at the Vienna Conservatory (1880).

Nearly all of Janáček’s early works were vocal and from the start showed a strong nationalistic flavor that had been inspired by his close friendship with Dvořak. Janáček became interested in collecting folk material and studying their speech rhythms and inflections which could be incorporated into music.  He also spent much of his time noting the sounds of his environment. It is out of the study of these natural sounds and melodic features of speech that he created a unique musical language that characterizes his compositions.  For nearly fifty years Janáček was practically unknown in the music mainstream except for his friendship with Dvořak and a small number of choral and chamber works. In 1903 he completed his first important work, the opera Jenufa , which was not staged until 1916. The success of Jenufa marked a turning point in Janáček’s career. He subsequently produced a stream of brilliant works, in a variety of genres, that established him as a major composer of the 20th century. These included  two quartets: “The Kreutzer Sonata” (1923) and “Intimate Pages”(1928).

Janáček’s  String Quartet No.1 was completed in a nine-day period toward the end of 1923. It bears the title “The Kreutzer Sonata” reflecting specific programmatic material as  commonly used by the composer. The work is not really his first in this genre. He had written one (now lost) in 1880, as a student in Vienna.  It is also not the first work he wrote inspired by Tolstoy’s short story The Kreutzer Sonata.  In 1908-9 Janáček had composed a piano trio on the same subject but only fragments remain of  that work.

The Tolstoy story is a portrayal of an “unhappy, tortured beaten woman,” who is stabbed to death by her  husband who was jealous of a violinist whom he had introduced to his wife. In the story, we find the violinist and the wife at a private recital attended by the husband. They perform Beethoven’s  Kreutzer Sonata (Sonata No. 9, Op.14). The first movement apparently has a “terrible effect” upon the husband.  A week later he goes away on a business trip and returns unannounced to find the couple together.  In a frenzy, the husband stabs his wife with his “curved Damascus dagger.”

The Kreutzer Sonata, as befitting an operatic setting, is scaled down to a string quartet in four movements. Each short movement serves as a tableau of  the dramatic contrasts in the elements of the story. The first is a portrait of the woman, with her despair  and conflicted feelings. One gets a sense of a love theme, passion and yearnings which are countered by the sporadic sharpness and near-ferocity in sounds.

The second movement depicts her fateful encounter with the “foppish” violinist. There is a swaggering melody broken up by sudden changes in the texture and the complex rhythms that revolve about the major theme expressed in the first movement.  Agitation sets in with the eerie tremolo played near the bridge of the high strings (sul ponticello) which in effect produces harsh metallic sounds.

The third movement, which is thought to contrast  the genuine love of the woman against the jealousy of her husband, opens with an  apparent reference to Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata.  The calmness is disrupted by the sul ponticello  and we hear conflicting agitated sounds until the movement ends with the opening theme.         The final movement, representing a sort of fusion of the catastrophe,  opens with a wistful sounding statement. Then it shifts into a disturbing mode accompanied by loud pizzicato, followed by restatements of the primary theme of despair.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59 No.1  

In the five years from the time the Op. 18 quartets were completed until 1805 when Beethoven received the commission for the Op.59 quartets, the composer had come to terms with his growing deafness. For one thing it meant that he could no longer consider himself a virtuoso pianist. Determined to prove his greatness as a composer, he focused upon reshaping the sonata form which had reached a state of perfection by Haydn and Mozart. Sometime in late 1804 Beethoven started working on sketches for new quartets based on his innovative ideas. Thus, when Count Andreas Kyrilovitch Razumovsky, one of Beethoven’s most generous patrons, offered the composer a commission to complete his quartets, he seized upon the opportunity and decided “to devote myself wholly to this work.”  He completed all three quartets by September 1806, dedicating them to his patron.  Razumovzky had already engaged the quartet of professional musicians led by Ignaz Schuppanzigh for Beethoven to use whenever he wished.  Thus it is likely that the works were written with the Schuppanzigh concerts in mind. The so-called Razumovksy quartets were introduced to the musical world by the Schuppanzigh Quartet in 1807 and then published the next year. They were innovative in form, style, complexity and length and were intended just as much for public performances as for private “parties”. Suffice it to say that the quartets were not very well received at first, either by musicians or critics.             Schuppanzigh himself complained of the difficult parts that had been written for professional musicians instead of amateurs as in the Op. 18 quartets. Beethoven is said to have retorted “Do you suppose I am thinking about your whimpering fiddle when the spirit moves me?” The most important musical magazine of its time, the Leipizig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, published the following review of the 1807 performances of the Op. 59 quartets by its Vienna correspondent: “Three new, very long, and difficult Beethoven quartets…are attracting the attention of all connoisseurs. They are profoundly thought and admirably worked out, but not to be grasped by all.”— The prevailing view at the time was that the music was not accessible.

The F-major Quartet’s  spacious first movement (Allegro) begins with a long serene cello melody that leads to the highly dramatic exploration of multiple themes, with leaps and staccato measures. The themes are developed and recapitulated with brilliant fugal passages and conclude with a well-defined coda.

The second movement (Allegretto vivace e semper) opens with a very soft monotonous drumming rhythm from the cello that is picked up and fragmented by a violin. It is repeated by the other two strings, creating a restless dialogue. The music develops into a kaleidoscope of contrasting melodies, some dance-like, others song-like that are passed quickly from one instrument to another and repeated.

The third movement (Adagio molto e mesto) is a long tragic statement, described by Beethoven in his sketches for this section of the quartet, as “A weeping willow or acacia tree upon my brother’s grave.” The statement is slowly drawn out in two melodies that are mingled and reworked until an elaborate violin cadenza closes it.       The music, without pause, moves into the finale (Thème Russe: Allegro). This melodic theme is presumed to have been used by Beethoven to honor his patron, and was apparently derived from a Russian folk song collection. However, it is not presented in the style of the original slow tempo and minor key but rather fast and in a major key, giving the music a spirited, ebullient character.  As the movement draws to a close, the melody is restated in a slow tempo, more in keeping with the nature of the original song and ends the quartet in an exuberant flourish.

— Arthur Canter