Photo: Melvin Kaplan Inc.
The Pacifica Quartet
Prokofiev: String Quartet No. 2 in F Major Op. 92 Beethoven Op.130 with grosse fuge
Saturday, October 20, 4:00 pm
The members of the Pacifica Quartet – Simin Ganatra, violin; Sibbi Bernhardsson, violin; Masumi Per Rostad, viola and Brandon Vamos, cello – are reknowned for their virtuosity and diversity of repertoire. As of 2012, they are the ensemble-in-residence at the Jacobs School of Music.
The concert will open with Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2 in F. Written in 1941, the work incorporates Kabardino-Balkar folk tunes. Far from being a sentimental choice on Prokofiev’s part, the tunes originated in the Caucasus region to which he and other artists were evacuated when Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. In an effort to get some arts propaganda out of the situation, the Soviet government ordered Prokofiev to write a string quartet incorporating local melodies.
Though this circumstance appears less than conducive to artistic expression, the quartet retains the distinctive harmonic structure of all Prokofiev’s music. In the second movement, an imitation of the brittle sound of the kjamantchi, a Caucasian string instrument, adds a unique timbre. Prokofiev’s lively treatment of the folk tunes does credit to his ability to bear up under personal and professional hardship.
The concert will conclude with Beethoven’s quartet Op. 130, No. 13. The Pacifica Quartet will perform the original final movement, the Grosse Fuge, which Beethoven planned to include in his Op. 130 quartet, but later published separately as Op. 133. This change of heart came about because the fugue is an incredibly demanding work, full of intricate counterpoint and technical challenges. The structural and tonal complexity of the movement were not well received by nineteenth-century audiences and performers, but modern observers consider it to be among Beethoven’s greatest compositions.
The members of the Pacifica Quartet are not strangers to the challenges of Beethoven’s oeuvre. In 2011, they presented the complete cycle of Beethoven quartets in Tokyo, in five concerts over the course of only three days. Saturday’s concert is an excellent opportunity to hear this prizewinning professional ensemble right here in Bloomington.