HAYDN String Quartet in C major, Op.54 No.2
JANÁČEK String Quartet No.1 "The Kreutzer Sonata"
BRAHMS String Quartet No.3 in B flat major, Op.67
This program brings together some of our personal favorites. The charming and witty Haydn quartet that opens the program was composed in 1788 for the violinist Johann Tost, a popular Esterhazy court musician. Far from lacking is that ingenious spirit with which Haydn is able to capture, in a single breath, the cultivated atmosphere of an aristocratic court and the moonshined vapors of a barnyard contradance. Janáček's String Quartet No.1, inspired by Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata, was composed quickly in 1923 and puts on full display the composer's adventurous palette and vivid brush strokes. Unlike the Haydn, "Kreutzer Sonata" is a completely programmatic work, meant to convey the main narrative elements of Tolstoy's novella in musical form: from the pangs of jealousy of Tolstoy's main character, Pozdnyshev, to the brutal murder of his wife, or to the rumbling train Pozdnyshev rides in seeking repentance. The final piece on the program, from 1875, is the last of Brahms' three surviving quartets. Like other chamber music works by Brahms that are in a major key, the B-flat quartet conveys a lighthearted sentiment (a fitting foil to the tempestuous Janáček) while maintaining a noble air. However, the gaiety of the facade belies a rich tapestry of ideas and compositional feats that lend this quartet its depth of character.