November 8 & 9, 2015

Laredo, Kalichstein & the Cavani Quartet

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Artists

Jaime Laredo, violin
Joseph Kalichstein, piano
Cavani Quartet
Annie Fullard, violin
Mari Sato, violin
Kirsten Doctor, viola
Merry Peckham, cello

Program

Beethoven
Sonata for Violin & Piano in F Major, Spring
Joan Tower
Night Fields
Chausson
Concerto for Piano, Violin & String Quartet

Described by the Washington Post as "completely engrossing, powerful, and elegant," the award-winning Cavani Quartet makes their Linton debut, performing Chausson’s one-of-a-kind chamber work with Jaime Laredo and Joseph Kalichstein.

Program Notes

Beethoven, Sonata for Violin & Piano in F Major, Spring

Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major, Op. 24 is the fifth of his ten sonatas for that instrumentation. Historically and stylistically this work embodies the threshold between the composer’s classical early period and more adventurous middle period. The work is built upon the graceful themes, transparent textures and traditional accompaniment figures of a traditional classical sonata, but throughout there is a sense of the burgeoning robustness of style that would lead Beethoven to be remembered as the composer who most adroitly bridged the Classical and Romantic periods.

While Sonata No. 5 shows early indications of Beethoven’s later compositional style, thematically it remains firmly rooted in the more gentle aspects of the composer’s personality – particularly his great love of nature. It opens with a flowing theme of spontaneous lyricism, suggestive immediately of the freshness and beauty of spring that has earned the sonata its nickname. The second movement speaks simply and flowingly, with violin and piano alternating in presenting the theme in slightly different variations.

Op. 24 is Beethoven’s first violin sonata to have four movements. The third movement is extremely short (barely a minute), but it plays out like a game of tag in which the violin and piano playfully bounce off one another, and perfectly bridges the sublime simplicity of the second movement and the gracious lyricism of the finale. The finale is a conventional rondo with a lyrical theme followed by four episodes that convey a lightheartedness and sense of humor that is uniquely Beethoven.

Joan Tower, Night Fields

Composer's Note:
Night Fields, my first string quartet, is dedicated with affection and admiration to the Muir String Quartet. The title came after the work was completed and provides an image or setting for some of the moods of the piece: a cold windy night in a wheat field lit up by a bright full moon where waves of fast-moving colors ripple over the field, occasionally settling on a patch of gold.
-- Joan Tower

Chausson, Concerto for Piano, Violin & String Quartet

Ernest Chausson is often referred to as a composer who bridges Cesar Franck and Claude Debussy. Although he was student of the one and mentor to the other, in his Concerto for Piano, Violin and String Quartet he mostly harks back to the more stolid earlier Franckian structures. Yet there is certainly enough originality in the piece to leave us questioning what he might have gone on to write had his short compositional career not been cut short.

Chausson composed the concerto under Franck’s tutelage between 1889-1891. He dedicated it to the famous violinist, Eugene Ysaye, who performed the solo violin part at its first performance in Brussels in 1892. Critical reception of the work was immediately positive, with the critic K.S. Sorabji calling it "one of the most original and beautiful chamber works of modern times."

The first movement, organized around the 18th century sonata form, begins with a 34 measure introduction, which is dominated by the opening three-note motive. Both the first and second themes claim their origins in the introductory motive, which gives the movement an inner coherence. The second movement entitled "Sicilienne" employs a baroque dance rhythm. The entire portion of the concerto is built wholly on the opening lulling melody. The third movement, a Grave in D minor, is largely a mood description; rather foreboding and fatefully resigned in character. As in the first movement, the two themes are not only connected, but also dominated by chromaticism. Finally, the last movement, the finale (tres anime), contains essentially one idea which is treated in variation rather than in sonata form. The movement contains a minimum of melodic development, but mostly rhythmic amplification or abbreviation. It follows Franck’s cyclic aesthetic by quoting previous themes, and presenting a variation of one, which forms the basis for a rather extensive coda.

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Chausson Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet