a concert – with people!

This past Saturday we played a small program of Mozart and Dvorak for a neighborhood audience in the Sellwood-Moreland area of Portland. Coming on the heels of having played at Providence Milwaukie Hospital last Monday, it was our first week of playing live concerts since March 7th. It felt very good to be playing together again, and to bring live music to audiences that are starved for it! Many thanks to David Stabler (retired classical music critic and cycling buddy) for arranging the concert and providing delicious snacks and beverages for us afterward!

a gift for our Salem & George Fox audiences

We were so saddened when we were contacted by Camerata Musica organizer George Struble, and by the administration at George Fox University to be told that our concerts wwere being postponed to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was for everyone’s safety, of course, and we completely understood. However, we wanted to leave our audiences in Salem and Newberg, who we’ve come to enjoy so much, with a small gift to pass the time until we return in the Fall.

Please enjoy this excerpt from Arvo Pärt’s contemplative masterpiece, Fratres. We hope to see you soon – stay well and safe – we’ll be back to perform you again as soon as conditions and scheduling allow! – Fumino, Shin, Charles, and Heather.

Two Concerts – Coming this Spring!

We’ve got two exciting concerts coming up this spring.

Peter Zisa, guitar

First, on March 7, 2020 we’re collaborating with guitarist Peter Zisa on a concert featuring two rarely-heard works from the 17th and 19th century for guitar and string quartet – Sylvius Leopold Weiss’ Concerto for Lute, and Mauro Giuliani’s Concerto for Guitar, Op. 30 . Originally written for guitar with string orchestra, they work very well arranged for string quartet. Rounding out the program will be one of Beethoven’s most loved quartets, his mighty Op. 59 no 1 “Rasumovsky” quartet.

Ludwig van Beethoven

On March 29, 2020 we return to the Camerata Music Salem series. We’ll be playing two works of Beethoven in honor of his 250th birthday year – the Op. 59 no 1 “Rasumovsky” quartet and the sublime Cavatina movement from his Op. 130 quartet. Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 will bring the concert to a rousing conclusion!

Please visit the Events Calendar page for more information.

salem camerata musica concert this sunday

This Sunday, April 14th brings our customary visit to the Salem Camerata Musica series at the Salem Public Library. We love playing for their enthusiastic and knowledgable audiences! The concert is free, and starts at 2:30pm. Find more information here. We hope you can join us!

This year’s program consists of two quartets by Mozart and one by Arriaga. The two Mozart quartets are from his final set of three quartets known as the “Prussian” quartets, due to their being dedicated to the King of Prussia, King Friedrich Wilhelm II, who was himself an amateur cellist. He must have been a cellist of no small amount of skill considering that the works feature that instrument prominently and with no small amount of technical challenge. Haydn also wrote a set of six “Prussian” quartets, his Op. 50, for the King in 1787. Mozart’s set of three was premiered and published shortly after his death.

The D major Quartet, K. 575 is perhaps the best known of the three, and is firmly in the mature Mozart camp. No surprises here, just sheer perfection in form and expression.

The F major Quartet, K. 590, his last, is a slightly different animal. I often wonder if Beethoven may have been exposed to this quartet at some point, as it has germs of what Beethoven would later take on in his later quartets – expanded chromaticism, the use of singular rhythmic/melodic motifs, and brief sections of almost chaotic (for the time) rhythm and harmony, particularly in the last movement finale. It also has one of the most gem-like and perfect slow movements in all of the string quartet literature. It’s tied for my favorite with Haydn’s famous F-sharp major slow movement from his Op. 76, no. 5 “Largo” quartet.

Members of the Emerson Quartet talk about Mozart’s Prussian Quartets.

Juan Crisostómo Arriaga was a Spanish composer who became known as “the Spanish Mozart” due to several factors: he shared Mozart’s birthday, was a performing and composing prodigy, and died at a tragically young age: just 10 days shy of his 20th birthday. His three string quartets, written when he was 16, are three gems of the classical repertory. They are not at all commonly performed these days, which is unfair to both the composer’s legacy and to today’s audiences! I have known about his quartets since my grad school days, when I was working with the Guarneri Quartet, who championed and recorded these quartets throughout their storied career. We’ll be performing his charming Quartet No. 1 in D major. There are not many idiomatic Spanish cues in this quartet, but there are a few. There are bits of a fandango rhythm in the last movement, and some brief ornamental flourishes that do betray his country’s musical heritage.

Music from Angel Fire performs Arriaga’s First Quartet in D major.

season opening house concert march 2nd

The gracious home of Dr. Peter Joseph Zisa will open for our first concert of the season, Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. in NE Portland. Our program will consist of works by our two featured composers this season, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga. Mozart is well known because, well, he’s Mozart! Arriaga is not as nearly well known, even though he has the nickname “The Spanish Mozart”. He died tragically young at the age of 19, but left three delightful quartets that hold their own against those by the masters of the period – Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Had he lived, he may have become one of the great composers of the 19th century. Thankfully, he left us three delightful string quartets.

Program:

W.A. Mozart (1756-1791) – Adagio & Fugue in C minor, K. 546
W.A. Mozart – String Quartet in D major, K. 575
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806-1826) – String Quartet No. 1 in D major


Tickets & Info:

https://www.peterzisa.com/casa-della-zisa/
RSVP casadellazisa@gmail.com or call 503-307-4907
$20 seat; $15 for PGS members, senior citizens, and students


we’re back!

Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Our hiatus is over, and we’re back for a few concerts this season. Our repertoire this season will be the final three string quartets of W.A. Mozart, and the three quartets of the “Spanish Mozart”, Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga. Great music in great, intimate spaces, that’s what we have in store this year. We hope to see you there!

Don’t forget to subscribe to this site to get email updates about new concerts and quartet news! Simply enter your email address below, or in the Get Updates field in the right hand column. (We won’t share it with anyone else, and there may only be one or two updates per month, maximum.)

Our major concert will be in Salem, Oregon at our favorite local series, Camerata Musica on April 14, 2019 at 2:30pm. We’ve got a house concert planned, and a few other surprises as well.

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quartet commandments

These 12 commandments, collected by David Angel, late violinist-founder of the Maggini Quartet, are hilarious, but also spot-on. Hat tip to Scott Dickinson for posting this on his Facebook page.

salem and thanks

Charles Noble, Fumino Ando, Pansy Chang, and Shin-young Kwon backstage at the Salem Library, Sunday, April 9, 2017.

Today we played our annual concert on the Salem Camerata Musica series at the Salem Public Library. We were originally scheduled to play at the end of January, but I needed to attend to my mom’s affairs following her passing on January 26th. George Struble, director of the series, kindly found a new performance date for us, which we all appreciated very much. It was strange to revisit a program that was all ready to go in late January at the beginning of April. Luckily, everyone kept the pieces in their fingers, and things went together pretty quickly, all things considered. I’m so grateful to my wonderful colleagues, Shin-young Kwon, Fumino Ando, and guest cellist Pansy Chang, for being flexible in the face of a family crisis, and for playing so beautifully today. This wraps up our 2016-2017 season. We’re not sure what’s in store for next year, but watch this space for announcements coming at the end of the summer. Thank you for your support!