There are pieces of a symphony that may create an atmosphere of an intimate setting. Chamber concerts, as a whole, are the intimate meals for friends.
The Franklin Pond String Quartet, made up of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra members, performed a full meal of Haydn, Shostakovich and Dvorak, January 15 in a sold out benefit concert for The Jekyll Island Foundation.
Violinist Jun-Ching Lin, Violinist Carolyn Hancock, Violist Paul Murphy and Cellist Daniel Laufer provided a full program of pieces tempting to all levels of music enthusiasts.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), known as the inventor of the string quartet we’re familiar with today, was the appetizer. The Quartet performed his Quartet in C Major, op. 20, no. 2, and within moments the room of 359 guests seemed to be gathered around a figurative table nibbling on salad greens and sipping wine. The lighter fare of the “C Major Quartet” created a warm, cozy atmosphere.
Haydn wrote over 80 quartets during his lifetime. His six op. 20 quartets date from 1772, and were originally entitled Divertimentos—light instrumental pieces with multiple movements—when they were first published.
The main course was Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906-1975) String Quartet no. 7 in F-sharp Minor, op. 108. In pure Shostakovich style, the piece, at times, was a haunting melody, which engaged the audience in a concentrated, intense conversation. The music deepened, as though the host was sharing a dark secret, then the dialogue grew heated and passionate once again.
The composer’s works were under constant scrutiny in the power of the Soviet government and it was often condemned and banned. His seventh quartet was written in 1960 and dedicated to his first wife who died of cancer in 1954. The piece is a continual stream of music without pauses in between the three movements.
The final piece on the program, Antonin Dvořák’s (1841-1904) String Quartet no. 12 in F major, op. 96, “American,” was the slice of chocolate mouse pie. The music was rich in color and sound, yet light in its serenade to wind down the evening.
Dvořák composed the piece during his American residency at the National Conservatory and it premiered on Jan. 1, 1894 in New York by the Kneisel Quartet, a month following his successful Symphony no. 9, “The New World,” premiere at Carnegie Hall (his final symphony).
Dvořák made a concerted effort to create what he perceived as “America’s music” through broad, symphonic gestures. He was inspired by American Indian music, folk music of various cultures and African-American music, and all such flavors were woven into his quartet to end the evening on a perfect note.
Upcoming Franklin Pond String Quartet Performance:
Feb. 8, 2011
with Robert Spano
Peachtree Presbyterian Church
Jan. 18, 2011
Lang Lang Recital
San Francisco Symphony
Jan. 20-22, 25, 2011
Tchaikovsky: Suite no. 3
Stravinsky: The Song of the Nightingale
Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Jan. 20, 22, 2011
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements
Elgar: In the South
Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Jan. 20, 22, 23, 2011