Celebrating their 40th anniversary, this peerless ensemble is revered around the world for its remarkable versatility. Here, the pure tones of delicate Baroque fantasies contrast with Shostakovich’s memorial tribute to his late wife, full of furious longing and acerbic wit. Culminating in the elegant, powerful symmetry of Beethoven’s famous Op. 131, this promises to be a fascinating, unforgettable evening.
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm For Assistance
PURCELL/BRITTEN: Chacony in G minor
PURCELL: Two Fantasies
SHOSTAKOVICH: String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131
Chacony (Chaconne) in G minor, Z. 730 (ca. 1678)
HENRY PURCELL (1659-1695)
The “chaconne” (or “chacony,” to use Purcell’s word) is a set of continuous variations around a short, repeating melody. Among Purcell’s early realizations of the form is the Chacony in G minor, dating from around 1678. The piece is built on an eight-measure theme presented in the bass that becomes the subject for eighteen variations. The mood throughout is serious, almost tragic.
Two Fantasias (ca. 1680)
HENRY PURCELL (1659-1695)
The fantasia—or “fancy,” as it was most commonly known in Britain—was a popular late Renaissance-early Baroque form descended from the contrapuntal motet. It comprised several continuous polyphonic sections, usually in imitation, that were freely composed (i.e., not based on a borrowed cantus firmus); hence, the form’s name. The last known examples of the form are the thirteen pieces for viol consort that Purcell composed apparently in 1680. The Fantasia No. 8 is a somber contrapuntal conversation among the participants that turns briefly to a quickened pace and brighter thoughts before resuming the opening mood for the close. The Fantasia No. 11 enfolds a central episode of plain texture within two contrasting imitative paragraphs of almost Bachian complexity and expressive depth.
String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 (1960)
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
In July 1960, Shostakovich was in Dresden composing the background music for a joint Soviet/East German film about the Second World War called Five Days, Five Nights. So moved was he by the subject of the story and by the still-unhealed scars of the city—the Allies had reduced Dresden to rubble in 1945 in a single night of the most fearsome bombing in the history of warfare—that he poured his feelings into the musical form he entrusted with his most personal thoughts—the string quartet. The Eighth Quartet was composed in three days in Dresden and dedicated to “the memory of the victims of fascism and the war.” The chief motive running through the work and providing the germ for much of its thematic material is Shostakovich’s musical “signature”— DSCH, the notes D–E-flat–C–B. (The note D represents his initial. In German transliteration, the composer’s name begins “Sch”: S [ess] in German notation equals E-flat, C is C, and H equals B-natural.)
The Quartet is in five continuous movements. The DSCH motive is heard immediately in imitation in the somber opening of the first movement. Three other themes provide contrast: a quotation in dotted rhythms from the First Symphony; an eerie descending chromatic scale; and a reminiscence of the Fifth Symphony. The four thematic elements are recapitulated, and lead without pause to a furious toccata, brutal, hammering music depicting the destruction of war. The third movement is a scherzo, by turns sardonic and lyrical. The slow fourth movement explodes with an accompaniment figure transmogrified into gunshots. The three lower voices in unison play a melody from the Eleventh Symphony (“The Year 1905”) of 1957. After a repetition of the gunshots, the Russian song Exhausted by the Hardships of Prison is intoned by the first violin. The gunshots, the Russian Revolutionary song, and the Eleventh Symphony motive in condensed versions serve as the movement’s coda. The finale eschews Romantic apotheosis in favor of 20th-century doubt. The austere mood and the DSCH theme of the first movement return, and the music seems hardly able to maintain its forward motion. Its energy dissipated, perhaps through catharsis or just from weariness, the music dies away with an inconclusive open-interval harmony.
String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131 (1825-1826)
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
On November 9, 1822, Prince Nikolas Galitzin, a devotee of Beethoven’s music and an amateur cellist, wrote from St. Petersburg asking the composer for “one, two or three quartets, for which labor I will be glad to pay you whatever amount you think proper.” Beethoven accepted the commission and set the fee of 50 ducats for each work, a high price but one readily accepted by Galitzin. Beethoven, however, exhausted by his labors on the Ninth Symphony in 1823-1824, could not complete the first of the commissioned works, the Quartet in E-flat major, until February 1825. The A minor Quartet was finished five months later and the B-flat was written between July and November, during one of the few periods of relatively good health Beethoven enjoyed in his last decade. He began sketching the C-sharp minor Quartet in December 1825 and completed it during the following months.
The C-sharp minor Quartet may well be Beethoven’s boldest piece of musical architecture—seven movements played without pause, six distinct main key areas, 31 tempo changes, and a veritable encyclopedia of Classical formal principles. Though it passes beyond the Fifth Symphony, Fidelio, and Egmont in its harmonic sophistication and structural audacity, this Quartet shares with those works the sense of struggle to victory, of subjecting the spirit to such states of emotional unrest as strengthen it for winning the ultimate triumph. The opening movement is a spacious, profoundly expressive fugue which, according to Richard Wagner, “reveals the most melancholy sentiment in music.” The following Allegro offers emotional respite as well as structural contrast. A tiny movement (Allegro moderato—Adagio) serves as the bridge to the expressive heart (and formal center) of the Quartet, an expansive set of variations. The fifth movement alternates two strains of buoyantly aerial music. The Adagio in chordal texture is less an independent movement than an introduction and foil for the finale, whose vast and densely packed sonata form (woven with references to the fugue theme of the first movement) summarizes the overall progress of this stupendous Quartet in its move from darkness and struggle toward light and spiritual renewal.
EMERSON STRING QUARTET
With more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys®, three Gramophone Awards, and the Avery Fisher Prize, the Emerson String Quartet is one of the most in-demand quartets today.
EMERSON STRING QUARTET
The Emerson String Quartet has amassed an unparalleled list of achievements over four decades: more than thirty acclaimed recordings, nine Grammys® (including two for Best Classical Album), three Gramophone Awards, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America’s "Ensemble of the Year" and collaborations with many of the greatest artists of our time.
The arrival of Paul Watkins in 2013 has had a profound effect on the Emerson Quartet. Mr. Watkins, a distinguished soloist, award-winning conductor, and devoted chamber musician, joined the ensemble in its 37th season, and his dedication and enthusiasm have infused the Quartet with a warm, rich tone and a palpable joy in the collaborative process. The reconfigured group has been praised by critics and fans alike around the world. “The Emerson brought the requisite virtuosity to every phrase. But this music is equally demanding emotionally and intellectually, and the group’s powers of concentration and sustained intensity were at least as impressive." - The New York Times
The 2016-17 season marks the Emerson Quartet’s 40th Anniversary, and highlights of this milestone year reflect all aspects of the Quartet’s venerable artistry with high-profile projects and collaborations, commissions and recordings. Universal Music Group has reissued their entire Deutsche Grammophon discography in a 52-CD boxed set. After recent engagements together at the Kennedy Center and Tanglewood, illustrious soprano Renée Fleming joins the Emerson at Walt Disney Concert Hall, performing works by Alban Berg and Egon Wellesz from their first collaborative recording, released by Decca in fall of 2015. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has programmed celebratory concerts at Alice Tully Hall, as well as in Chicago and Purchase, NY, in October: the Calidore Quartet teams up with the Emerson for the Mendelssohn Octet, and the Emerson gives the New York premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Shroud (co-commissioned by CMS). Former Emerson cellist David Finckel appears as a special guest for Schubert’s Quintet in C Major. In May 2017, legendary pianist Maurizio Pollini will join the Quartet for a performance of the Brahms Quintet at Carnegie Hall. Additional highlights include a concert with clarinetist David Shifrin as part of the Quartet’s season-long residency at Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, as well as a collaboration with cellist Clive Greensmith for the Schubert Quintet at the Soka Performing Arts Center in California. The Emerson continues its series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC for its 38th season, and the quartet members have been selected as Artistic Advisors for Wolf Trap’s Chamber Music at The Barns in Virginia, curating the series in celebration of its 20th season.
Multiple tours of Europe comprise dates in Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom (including Wigmore Hall for a 40th Anniversary Gala); the Quartet also visits Mexico for the Festival Internacional Cervantino.
Formed in 1976 and based in New York City, the Emerson was one of the first quartets whose violinists alternated in the first chair position. In 2002, the Quartet began to stand for most of its concerts, with the cellist seated on a riser. The Emerson Quartet, which took its name from the American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, is Quartet-in-Residence at Stony Brook University. During the spring of 2016, full-time Stony Brook faculty members Philip Setzer and Lawrence Dutton received the honor of Distinguished Professor, and part-time faculty members Eugene Drucker and Paul Watkins were awarded the title of Honorary Distinguished Professor. In January 2015, the Quartet received the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, Chamber Music America’s highest honor, in recognition of its significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field.
Photo: Lisa Mazzucco
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Where are the chamber music series performances held?
Bravo! Vail Chamber Music Series concerts at held at Donovan Pavilion, located at 1600 S Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657
What time do performances begin?
Concerts start promptly at 6:00PM. Doors open 30 minutes prior. Give yourself plenty of time to park and get to the venue. Latecomers will be escorted to seats by ushers at an appropriate interval.
Where do I park for Chamber Music Series performances?
Free parking is available at Donovan Pavilion.
How long do concerts last?
Concerts generally last 90 minutes to 2 hours including a scheduled intermission.
How do I buy tickets?
Tickets, passes, and gift certificates may be ordered in the following ways:
1. Online: bravovail.org
2. By phone 877.812.5700
3. In person: Bravo! Vail 2271 N Frontage Rd W Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Bravo! Vail accepts American Express, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards, cash, and checks. There is a $2 fee per ticket. Tickets are delivered by mail or email, or may be picked up at the Box Office.
What are the Box Office hours?
Bravo! Vail Box Office hours are Monday-Friday from 9AM to 4PM. During the Festival, hours include Saturday & Sunday from 10AM to 4PM. The Bravo! Vail Box Office can be reached at 877.812.5700. Tickets are also sold at the Donovan Pavilion one hour prior to concert.
Where is the Will Call window?
Will Call tickets may be picked up one hour prior to the concert at the Box Office table located to the right of the entrance of Donovan Pavilion.
Does Bravo! Vail offer group pricing?
Discounts for groups of 15 or more are available for select concerts. Please call 970.827.4316 for more information.
What if I buy tickets and cannot attend?
Tickets are non-refundable. You may exchange tickets ($7 fee per ticket) by calling the Box Office at 877.812.5700 up to 2 days before the concert. You may release your tickets or leave them for a friend at Will Call by calling the Box Office.
What if I misplace or forget to bring my tickets?
There is no charge to reprint tickets. Please call 877.812.5700 before 3PM on the day of the performance or allow extra time to request new tickets from the Box Office at the venue.
What is the seating plan?
Seating for Chamber Music Series concerts is general admission and is ADA (American Disability Act) accessible.
What food and beverages are available at the concert?
Food and beverages including beer and wine are available for purchase on the back patio prior to the concert and at intermission.
What should I wear?
There is no dress code for concerts.
What are some general rules of Chamber Series concert etiquette?
Please allow time for parking and seating. Concert attendees must silence all mobile devices prior to performances to not disrupt 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.
What is the Donovan Pavilion Child Policy?
Chamber Music Series concerts are very intimate. We strongly recommend that 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 the Bravo! Vail Box Office 970.827.5700 or the Donovan Pavilion 970.477.3699.
What if I still have questions?
Please contact the Box Office at 877.812.5700 Mon–Fri 9AM–4PM (and Sat–Sun 10AM-4PM during the Festival).