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MANDELRING QUARTET Sebastian Schmidt and Nanette Schmidt, violin Roland Glassl, viola Bernhard Schmidt, violoncello Mandelring Quartet (Martin Blume)

String Quartet No. 6 in F minor Op. 80

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Allegro vivace assai Allegro assai Adagio Finale: Allegro molto

String Quartet No. 7 Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH in F-sharp minor, Op. 108 (1960) (1906-1975) Allegretto Lento Allegro – Allegretto – Adagio

INTERMISSION String Quartet No. 15 in A minor Op. 132

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Allegro Allegro ma non tanto Molto Adagio; Andante Alla marcia, assai vivace Allegro appassionato; Presto The Mandelring Quartet is represented exclusively in North America by California Artists Management http://www.CalArtists.com

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Mendelssohn: string Quartet no. 6 in F Minor, op. 80 Of all the people in Mendelssohn’s life, the one he was closest to was his older sister Fanny. When Fanny died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in May 1847 at the age of 41, Mendelssohn was inconsolable. Upon hearing the news, Mendelssohn collapsed with a ruptured blood vessel and was too griefstricken to attend her funeral. A few months later, Mendelssohn took a convalescent holiday in Switzerland and wrote his F minor String Quartet as a memorial to Fanny. Completed in September 1847, this ironically became Mendelssohn’s last major work; he died less than two months later at the age of 38, having never recovered from Fanny’s death. The F minor quartet is generally regarded as Mendelssohn’s darkest chamber work. The festive, light-hearted and highly spirited music for which Mendelssohn was known for is now replaced with anguish and virtually unrelenting tragedy. The musical material features abrupt changes, ideas that dissolve and diverge, combined with a prevailing mood of anger and lamentation. A respite, though, comes in the slow third movement where Mendelssohn creates a peaceful oasis in memory of his beloved sister.

about the PRoGRaM

Sunday, February 23, 2014, 3pm Irvine Barclay Theatre Pre-concert lecture by Dean Corey, 2pm


about the PRoGRaM

shostakovich: string Quartet no. 7 in F-sharp Minor, op. 108 Like Mendelssohn’s quartet, Shostakovich’s Seventh Quartet was also written in memory of a loved one, this time in memory of Shostakovich’s first wife. In 1932 Shostakovich married a young physicist named Nina Varzar. Their marriage was a stormy one, but ultimately one that lasted twenty-two years and produced two children. While working with radioactive materials at a government lab in Armenia, she fell terminally ill from radiation exposure and died in 1954. Shostakovich was heartbroken at the death of his still-young wife. His daughter later said that Nina’s death marked the first time she had seen her father cry. In 1960, after a short-lived and disastrous second marriage, Shostakovich decided to write a string quartet in memory of Nina. This Seventh Quartet has two notable features. First, it is Shostakovich’s shortest quartet, lasting only about thirteen minutes. Second, it is the first quartet he wrote in a minor key. (Each of the Shostakovich’s fifteen string quartets is in a different key, and he had hoped to eventually write a quartet in each of the twenty-four possible keys.) Any sort of specific musical associations in this quartet with his late wife or with Shostakovich himself have remained a secret. The quartet is in three short movements played without a break. It begins with a skipping, descending theme played in the first violin four times without changing and is accompanied by repeated notes in the other instruments. The fifth appearance of the theme serves as the transition to the second section. Now the cello performs the new, mostly ascending, theme with the first violin. Midway through the movement, all four musicians switch to pizzicato, an important feature in the quartet. The repeated notes of the beginning return at the end, this time without the opening theme. The mysterious second movement features quietly obsessive repeated patterns of sixteenth notes and dotted rhythms underneath themes in the first violin and cello, sometimes playing in their highest registers. Occasional glissandos (sliding between notes) add to the eerie atmosphere.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Shostakovich uses elements from the first two movements in the finale, but the effect is completely new. The opening theme returns at the beginning of the movement, now moving upward and played with great force. The obsessive accompaniment patterns from the second movement, played loudly, move to the forefront, and add to the violence. Halfway through, the opening of the quartet is played by all four players and the movement takes an unusual turn. A strange waltz now appears, the theme based on music from earlier in the movement. The repeated notes from the opening movement also return as the quartet quietly comes to rest in F-sharp major. Beethoven: string Quartet no. 15 in a Minor, op. 132 Written in 1825, the Quartet in A minor, although numbered as his penultimate quartet, was the second one in the final set of five “late quartets” to be composed. It is also one of Beethoven’s longest quartets, clocking in at about 42 minutes. The first movement casts a fragmentary, almost unsettled opening to the quartet. Several contrasting ideas are given towards the beginning, which are then tossed around in calm, agitated and, at times, unpredictable ways. Although structured like a traditional minuet or scherzo with trio, the music of the second movement falls somewhere in between the moods of both a minuet and a scherzo. Built mostly on the six-note theme that appears in the first violin shortly after the music begins, Beethoven writes music that is simultaneously pleasant with a bit of melancholy. Even the rustic middle section is not immune from abrupt interjections.


One of Beethoven’s greatest movements for string quartet, the third movement is the work’s centerpiece, both literally and emotionally. At the top of his manuscript, Beethoven wrote that this was a “Hymn of thanksgiving to the Almighty offered by a convalescent, in the Lydian mode,” or sometimes called in its original name, the Heiliger Dankgesang. After nearly dying from a stomach ailment, Beethoven wrote this movement while recovering at a spa in Baden. The hymn begins very simply and returns twice, each time more impassioned. In between each of the hymn’s returns is a more active section, which Beethoven tellingly marks “With new strength.”

with violist Roland Glassl is dedicated to exemplary performances of chamber music. Their success in winning some of the world’s great competitions— Munich (ARD), Evian and Reggio Emilia (Premio Paolo Borciani)—launched the Mandelring Quartet on its international career. In addition to numerous performances throughout Germany, concert tours now take the Quartet throughout Europe (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Vienna), North America (New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Montreal), Asia (Osaka, Tokyo), Central and South America (Buenos Aires, Lima, Montevideo), and the Middle East (Dubai and Abu Dhabi).

A very brief march movement with a strange, almost operatic closing section leads directly to the finale. Marked Allegro appassionato, the haunting melody that opens the final movement was originally considered by Beethoven to be used in the finale of the Ninth Symphony but eventually found its place in the finale of this quartet. Written mostly in the quartet’s dark home key of A minor, the finale rushes to its optimistic ending in the key of A major.

The Mandelring Quartet has appeared at the Rheingau Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and the international festivals of Lockenhaus, Montpellier, Montreal, Ottawa, Engadiner Konzertwochen in Switzerland, and the Salzburg Festival, where it performed the complete Shostakovich string quartet cycle over two days in summer 2011.

- Program notes by Christopher Russell Associate Professor and Orchestra Conductor at Azusa Pacific University

Mandelring Quartet The Mandelring Quartet’s remarkable homogeneity of sound, intonation and phrasing has become its distinguishing characteristic: four individuals who play as one in their shared determination to always seek out the innermost core of the music and remain open to the musical truth. By grasping the spiritual dimension, exploring the emotional extremes and working on the details, these musicians probe far beneath the surface of each work, revealing the multiplicity of meanings inherent in each. Their approach to the music is always both emotional and personal, making the Mandelring Quartet one of the highest-profile ensembles on the international chamber music scene. Critics agree. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung declared the Mandelring Quartet a worthy successor to the Alban Berg Quartet. Writing of its Shostakovich cycle at the Salzburg Festival, the leading Austrian arts magazine Die Bühne named the Mandelring the heir of the legendary Borodin Quartet, and the music magazine Fono Forum counts it as one of the six best string quartets in the world. Based in the German wine region in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, the three Schmidt siblings’ partnership

The HAMBACHERMusikFEST is an annual meeting point for lovers of chamber music from all over the world. Founded in 1997 under the Mandelring Quartet's artistic direction, the international festival takes place in the celebrated castle at Hambach on Germany's Weinstrasse in a picturesque setting among the vineyards. The Mandelrings invite eminent soloists from Germany and abroad and collaborate with them on programs using widely diverse instrumental combinations. The Mandelring Quartet has presented regular series of concerts in the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonie since 2010 and in its hometown of Neustadt on Germany’s Weinstrasse. The ensemble’s numerous CD and SuperAudio CD recordings have received the German Record Critics' Prize and have been nominated for the Midem Classical Award. Their more than two dozen recordings include the complete Schubert string quartet cycle, piano quintets of Brahms and Franck, chamber works by French composer Georges Onslow—nominated for the Cannes Classical Award, and the string quartets of Janáček. The Quartet received the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for its Berthold Goldschmidt recording. Recently released recordings of the complete Shostakovich string quartets have been hailed by the specialist press as one of the outstanding complete sets of our time. The Mandelring Quartet is currently recording Mendelssohn’s complete chamber music for strings for the Audite label.

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Mandelring Quartet Program Book  

Sunday, February 23, 2014 Irvine Barclay Theatre

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