SCHUBERT Quartettsatz in C minor, D. 703
HAYDN String Quartet in D major, Op. 20 No. 4
MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2
This program seeks to explore the seeds of romanticism while they are still fresh on their journey into the world. Schubert and Mendelssohn owe their understanding of the string quartet genre to paradigms Haydn established a half-century earlier. Yet the nature of artistic expression was fundamentally changing at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and with Schubert’s and Mendelssohn’s presence at the onset of that change we often falsely ascribe to such composers the gift of prophecy, perhaps mischaracterizing composers’ personal motivations. Indeed much our musicological analysis is colored by this progressive mentality. However, this program shows that Schubert and Mendelssohn, using their unique languages, give a voice to Haydn’s old-fashioned paradigms in merely fresh expressions of the times, rather than predictions of future innovations. Both romantic works on the program offer profound elaborations on the Sturm und Drang character that Haydn only hints at in his Op. 20 no. 4, yet many features of the classical style remain intact in the later pieces, including structural repetition, weaving motivic interplay and the ever so important spirit of enlightened discourse.