Cuarteto Casals – Oct. 22, 2015

On October 22, we hear compositions from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, György Kurtág and Maurice Ravel.

Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K. 387, was completed in December of 1782. Shortly after Mozart moved back to Vienna in 1781, he met and became friends with Joseph Haydn. Haydn and Mozart often played together in an impromptu string quartet. Mozart’s six quartets including K387 were dedicated to Haydn and are thought to be his response to Haydn’s 1781 Opus 33 set.

“Hommage à Mihály András” consists of twelve brief pieces or microludes, some lasting less than a minute. The set was composed by Kurtág’ in 1977. The 12 microludes bring to mind the influences of Bartók and Webern. Dense and brief, they range from disturbing to soothing; sound bites of mood, texture and gesture. Kurtág was born in Romania in 1926. In 1946, he began his studies in Budapest, at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. There he met his wife Marta. Kurtág and Marta have played piano together and recorded many duos. Here’s a YouTube video of them playing together. They have lived in Bordeaux since 2002.

Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F major was composed in 1903, when Ravel was around 28 years old. It is Ravel’s only work for a string quartet. The four movements are sometimes melancholy and at other times zealous. Yet it seems, they are always warm and inviting. This four movement composition is often compared with a string quartet written by Debussy 10 years earlier. However, as has been noted, Debussy “opened up fresh paths” in his string quartet, whereas Ravel returned to an embrace of classical standards.


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