$45 General Admission
Edwards Interfaith Chapel
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm For Assistance
This three-evening journey opens with the odd-numbered quartets, which introduce Bartók’s signature explosive energy, incandescent chromaticism, and rollicking Bohemian brio.
Pre-Concert Talk at 6:00PM
Concert at 7:00PM
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 1, Sz. 40, BB 52
String Quartet No. 1, Op. 7 (1908-09)
BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Béla Bartók’s six string quartets span most of his career as a composer, and they document his evolution as a man and an artist. His First—not counting a student work he disowned —dates from 1908-09 and includes a direct quotation from a Hungarian folk song, a passion he was then exploring as an ethnomusicologist. The Second (1914-17) was slowly birthed during the chaotic years of World War I. The Third (1927) reflects his evolving interest in neo-Baroque techniques, and the Fourth (1928) demonstrates the perfection of his formal esthetic. The Fifth (1934) shows the complete absorption of folk inspiration into the composer’s “art-music” style, and the Sixth (1939) suggests both Bartók’s growing despair at the onset of another war and how he countered concerns of mortality through the transcendence of art. In December 1944, the publishing firm of Boosey & Hawkes commissioned a further quartet, which Bartók was eager to write. The piece failed to take form in the nine remaining months of his life, leaving his six quartets to stand as one of the most monumental and indispensable achievements in the entire repertoire of chamber music.
In this week’s Immersive Experience, the Escher String Quartet plays the six works not in start-to-finish chronological order but rather staggered—odd numbers, then even numbers—which lends an optimally satisfying equilibrium to each program. Quartet No. 1 is a child of its time, less obviously revolutionary than Bartók’s later quartets (or, for that matter, Arnold Schoenberg’s Quartet No. 2, its exact contemporary) but nonetheless a fine specimen of highly chromatic, turn-of-the-century, post-Wagnerian lyricism and yearning. Bartók stated that its first movement embodied the sadness he felt when an incipient romance dissolved. In his last letter to Stefi Geyer, the object of his affection, he described it as “my funeral dirge.” The quartet unrolls in a single, uninterrupted span, although sections are demarcated within that expanse. They generally accelerate from beginning to end, and motifs, themes, and signature rhythmic patterns recur throughout, their contexts constantly transformed. The First Quartet waited over a year after completion for its premiere to take place. That performance, in 1910, was entrusted to the Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet, which would go on to premiere and champion his Second, Third, and Fourth Quartets before it disbanded in the 1930s.
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 3, Sz. 85, BB 93
String Quartet No. 3 (1927)
Quartet No. 3 is not traditionally tonal in its harmonic behavior, although it is anchored on the note C-sharp. The centripetal force of that underlying C-sharp is not constant, controlling only the beginning and the end. The interval of the tritone fuels much of the structural development in this work, and the fact that it is the least stable of all note combinations adds much to the sense of tension and tonal ambiguity. This is the Bartók quartet that most approximates the unnerving spirit of the Viennese Expressionists, particularly suggesting the sound of Alban Berg. Its four movements—or perhaps we should call them sections—are all connected into a single 15-minute span, making this the shortest of Bartók’s quartets. Its character changes greatly along the way, offering typically Bartókian vistas: Magyar folk-scales and rhythms, mysterious “night music” with chirping insects, brilliant excursions of dense counterpoint, dreamlike reminiscence, mystical secretiveness. Bartók entered his Third Quartet in a competition for chamber works sponsored by the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. It shared the first prize of $6,000 with a largely forgotten work by Alfredo Casella, his Serenata for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello, and piano. Among the 643 entries they edged out was Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 2, which the Verona Quartet played this afternoon.
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 5, Sz. 102, BB 110
String Quartet No. 5 (1934)
Quartet No. 5 is designed in an arch form. Its first and fifth movements mirror each other in their general impression, as do the second and fourth, leaving the third to stand as the fulcrum in the middle. In this work, Bartók balances the harsh outbursts and unremitting intensity found in some of his scores with the lyrical melodies and glittering details that captivate in others. This stylistic breadth helped make the Fifth become the most frequently played of his quartets. Although it pre-dates Bartók’s emigration to America—all of the quartets do—its impetus came from the United States; it was commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, was dedicated to that great American patroness of chamber music, and was premiered in 1935 in Washington, D.C. Its themes pour out generously, a contrast to the tersely telegraphed motivic statements of the preceding quartets. Nonetheless, the opening music consists of vehemently hammered notes that launch a vibrantly energized movement that is itself a sort of palindrome: when its three principal themes return in the movement’s recapitulation, they appear in reverse order from how they were presented in the exposition. The second movement reveals Bartók in his irresistible night music mode, a gentle tone poem of bird calls and insect chirps with folk-song phrases wafting in from afar. The third movement, the work’s fulcrum, is a scherzo-with-trio (itself a symmetrical structure), its complex rhythm patterns and modal melody deriving from Bulgarian folk style. Having rounded the central point of the arch, Bartók returns to another slow movement: more night music, but the evening has progressed and the atmosphere has grown darker. The fascinating finale includes a bizarre fugue and an amusing depiction of an organ-grinder, his instrument none too well tuned—this last being a variant, simplified to the point of banality, of the movement’s main theme.
The Escher String Quartet, formed in 2005, comprise Adam Barnett-Hart and Brendan Speltz, violins, Pierre Lapointe, viola, and Brook Speltz, cello.
The Escher String Quartet, formed in 2005, comprise Adam Barnett-Hart and Brendan Speltz, violins, Pierre Lapointe, viola, and Brook Speltz, cello. Members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, they toured with that group to China. The Escher was invited by Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to be Quartet in Residence at each artist’s summer festival, and is now string quartet in residence at Southern Methodist University. For the BIS label the quartet has recorded the complete Mendelssohn quartets and quartets by Dvorák, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky, and recorded the Zemlinsky quartets for Naxos.
Bartók’s even-numbered quartets punctuate turning points in his life and the wider world. Thoughtful and direct, this is music filled with strange beauty and restless rumination.
Providing context for the monumental quartets, Bartók’s youthful passion and ambition is already evident in his early Piano Quintet. Selections from the 44 Violin Duos explore the full range of both folk and classical traditions that shaped his distinctive voice.
Where are Immersive Experiences concerts held?
For 2021, the Bravo! Vail Immersive Experiences are held at the Edwards Interfaith Chapel at 32138 Highway 6, Edwards, CO 81632.
Where do I park for the concerts?
Free parking is available onsite.
What time do the performances take place?
Optional Pre-Concert Talks begin at 6:00PM and concerts start promptly at 7:00PM. Doors open at 5:30PM. Please allow plenty of time to park and get to the venue. Latecomers will be escorted to seats by ushers at appropriate intervals.
How long do concerts last?
Pre-Concert Talks last approximately 45 minutes, the musical performances generally last 80-90 minutes with a scheduled 10-minute intermission.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets may be purchased in the following ways:
1. Online at bravovail.org
2. By calling the box office 877.812.5700
3. Pending availability, in person at the entrance of the Edwards Interfaith Chapel starting at 5:00PM
What are Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00AM to 4:00PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office is located in West Vail at 2271 N Frontage Rd W, Vail CO 81657 and can be reached at 877.812.5700. Space permitting, tickets will also be sold at the entrance of the Edwards Interfaith Chapel starting at 5:00PM.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up before the concert at the door of the Edwards Interfaith Chapel starting at 5:00PM.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Due to limited audience capacity this summer, we are not offering discounts for groups.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
While our standard policy is that tickets are non-refundable, we understand the necessity to be flexible in these unprecedented times. Should you need to change your plans to attend a concert this summer, we ask that you consider donating the value of your tickets to help support Bravo! Vail’s ongoing mission of enriching people’s lives through the power of music. If you prefer a refund rather than donating the value of your tickets, please contact the Box Office.
If we are forced to cancel an event in its entirety, you will have the option to donate the value of your tickets to help support Bravo’s mission, place the value of your tickets on account for future use, or receive a refund.
What can I expect in terms of health and safety protocols?
As permitted by current State of Colorado and Eagle County guidelines, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival is operating at up to 100 percent capacity, without any social distancing or mask requirements. If you are not comfortable with this approach, although we will miss your presence, we ask that you consider not attending at this time.
Face coverings at Edwards Interfaith Chapel will be optional. All individuals, whether they choose to wear a face covering or not, will be welcomed and respected.
Capacity at performance venues will be at or near 100 percent with no social distancing requirements.
Will I be required to complete a waiver to attend concerts and events this summer?
All ticket reservations are subject to our 2021 Ticket Purchase Terms, available HERE. These terms include important waivers, releases, and limitations on liability. By reserving a ticket, you agree to the Ticket Purchase Terms.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
Call the Box Office before 3:00PM the day of the concert to reprint your tickets. Starting at 5:00PM, Box Office staff can also reprint tickets at the entrance of the Edwards Interfaith Chapel.
What is the seating plan?
Seating for Immersive Experiences is general admission.
Are food and beverages available at the concert?
Concessions will be open starting with the doors at 5:30PM. They will remain open through concert start, and then again at intermission. Concessions offered include bar service and snacks.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Immersive Experiences concert etiquette?
Please allow ample time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to avoid disrupting musicians and other patrons. Please limit conversations and other noisy activities during the performance. We recommend eating prior to the concert or at intermission. Parental supervision is required for all children attending Bravo! Vail concerts.
Any forms of audio or video recording (mobile phone, camera, video camera, iPad) are prohibited at these events.
Photographing performances (with no flash) is permitted during concerts, only if there is no disruption/distraction to fellow audience members or performers.
What is the Immersive Experiences child policy?
Bravo! Vail’s small ensemble concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend parents bring children aged six or older who are able to sit quietly through the entire performance.
What if I lose something at the concert?
Call Bravo! Vail Box Office at 970.827.5700 or the Edwards Interfaith Chapel staff at 970.926.3388.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9:00AM–4:00PM (and Sat–Sun 10:00AM-4:00PM during the Festival).
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