PROKOFIEV String Quartet No. 1 in B minor, Op. 50
HAYDN String Quartet in F major, Op. 50 No. 5
HAYDN String Quartet in B minor, Op. 33 No. 1
PROKOFIEV String Quartet in F major, Op. 92 “On Kabardinian Themes”
If not for the nearly 100 years and 1000 miles that separated them, Joseph Haydn and Sergei Prokofiev might very well have been friends, or at the very least musical compatriots. In their works we find kindred spirits who revel in the role of “provocateur,” toying with the listener’s musical sensibilities to create moments of unexpected confusion and imbalance, all the while crafting undeniably charming and attractive melodies and textures. In this program we present Prokofiev’s only two quartets set against two of Haydn’s 68.
Haydn’s B minor quartet from opus 33 is one of a set of six works with which the composer meant to herald a new era of style in the classical age, including the first “scherzos” (literally “jokes”) and written “in a completely new and peculiar way.” The F major quartet of opus 50 is more classically refined but still maintains his characteristic witty and rhetorical hallmarks. Prokofiev’s First Quartet is striking in that it omits one of the four standard movements and further subverts the expected structure by placing the finale in the middle and ending with the slow movement. His Second Quartet was a product of his time spent in safe-keeping in the Caucasus during World War II and the folk music archives he discovered there.