This will be their final concert in Northern Ireland before they disband
has worked with conductors such as Alexander Anissimov, Gerhard Markson and Barry Douglas. He is a founder member of the Esposito Quartet.
The Music is Amazing
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Seán Doherty (1987-) String Quartet No.3, The Devil’s Dream
A major influence on Doherty’s work is the fiddle tradition of Donegal, a style that he describes as aggressive, driving, and un-ornamented, the tunes are as stark as the bogland, the bowing as jagged as the cliffs. He learnt fiddle with James Byrne and this quartet is written in memory of his teacher, who died on his walk home from a seisiún in 2008. His final walk is imagined in the slow air, An Londubh (the blackbird) and the reel,
The Devil’s Dream.
Doherty tells us that this reel intrudes as a danse macabre that demolishes the air. The air comes screaming back only to be subsumed by the reel once more. After a quotation of the plainchant Dies Irae, the reel itself disintegrates. From the ashes of the Devil’s Dream, the air emerges in its final, transfigured, form.
Henning Kraggerud (1973-) Preghiera
Henning Kraggerud, the Norwegian composer and violinist, is a frequent visitor to Ireland. He is currently Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. The piece we’ll hear this afternoon: Preghiera, meaning Prayer, has been described as Middle-Eastern influences mixing with the baroque.
Zhou Long (1953-) Song of the Ch’in
The Ch’in is a traditional seven-stringed plucked zither, which was associated with sages and scholars. From manuscripts back to the 6th.century, it appears that Ch’in playing was quite a sophisticated art and involved various ways of plucking the strings, as well as the use of ornaments, range and timbre. These qualities are reflected in Zhou Long’s
Song of the Ch’in, which dates from 1982.
Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Adagio
This single piece for string orchestra began life as the slow movement for Barber’s String Quartet Op.11, written in 1936. In January 1938, Barber sent an orchestration of the movement to the great conductor Arturo Toscanini who introduced the piece to the world in a radio broadcast later that year. It immediately became popular, with its evocation not just of sadness but also serenity, whether in the lush string orchestra sound or the more intimate and unassuming original version for string quartet which we’ll hear this afternoon.
Peter Schickele (1935-) Barn Dance
Schickele’s comic albums, under the pseudonym of P.D.Q.Bach, have tended to overshadow his own ‘serious’ compositions, which include more than one hundred works for orchestra, choir and chamber ensembles. Barn Dance is the fourth movement of his String Quartet No.1, American Dreams, commissioned in 1983. It shows the influence of jazz, bird song and, most noticeably in this movement, dance. It includes fiddle tunes that he played as a boy, a Navajo melody and birdsong motifs, all with an Appalachian edge.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) String Quintet in C major D.956
This string quintet didn’t receive its first public performance until twenty-two years after Schubert’s death but it is now regarded as one of the undisputed pinnacles of the Romantic chamber music repertoire. The choice of a second cello, rather than the more usual second viola of Mozart’s quintets, gives a rich and distinctive sonority to the work.
Within a few weeks of completing this wonderful quintet, Schubert died at the age of thirty-one.