Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: The Message in The Tantrum
Next story: Six Shows in Five Days

Schubertiade A Deux

The Miro Quartet
Schubertiade À Deux
The Miró Quartet presents a pair of all-Schubert concerts at UB

It is a pretty safe bet that the members of the Miró Quartet enjoy performing before Buffalo audiences. The critically acclaimed string quartet has appeared in the past several times on the venerable Buffalo Chamber Music concert series in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall and just last year violinists Daniel Ching and William Fedkenheuer, violist John Largess and cellist Joshua Gindele more than rose to the occasion when they offered exciting, finely balanced performances of the quartets of Beethoven during their six-concert traversal of the complete Slee/ Beethoven String Quartet Cycle at UB. But man, or for that matter woman, does not live by Beethoven alone, though some diehard enthusiasts of the master might argue that yes, it is possible to do so. Luckily, however, the Miró Quartet thinks otherwise.

The Miró Quartet will open the Slee/Visiting Artists Series with a pair of all-Schubert programs at 7:30pm this Friday and Saturday evening in Slee Hall UB’s Amherst Campus that are very much in the venerable tradition of the Schubertiade. During Schubert’s all too pathetically short lifetime, his wealthier friends and supporters hosted informal gatherings of Schubert’s music in their homes, at which the composer was usually, but not necessarily present, with attendees ranging from a handful to almost hundred. This tradition has continued, in one way or another, in modern times, where Schubertiades tend to be more formal affairs, since the wonderful tradition of musicians performing informally in private residences has fatally withered, due in no small measure to the fact that amateur music making has by and large ceased to happen, due to the ever increasing availability of recorded music. That being said, while one of Schubert’s 15 works for string quartet often turn up on a local performance program, it is equally rarer than hen’s teeth to have more than one Schubert string quartet on a program.

Schubert composed fifteen works for string quartet, and the two programs by the Miró Quartet will cover the final five pieces.

Friday’s program includes the String Quartet No.11 in E, D. 353 and String Quartet No.12 in C minor, D. 703 (Quartettsatz). Schubert wrote the dramatic Quartettsatz in 1820, but similarly to his Symphony No. 8 in B minor, best known as the Unfinished Symphony, Schubert ultimately only composed the first movement and 41 measures of the second movement before laying the quartet aside forever, but the resulting quartet fragment is perhaps as memorable in its own way as the Unfinished Symphony. Schubert borrowed the theme for his String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, “Death and the Maiden”, from his 1817 lied “Der Tod und das Madchen”, and the resulting work, which was not published until three years after his death, has become his most often performed quartet. The Miró Quartet has recently recorded a very fine performance of this masterpiece, and it is available as a free download on its website, as part of their admirable, new “pay it forward” initiative. While this is wonderful opportunity to acquire a hot, new recording for free, I hope that all responsible lovers of classical music remember the tremendous effort that it takes for any currently performing musical group to achieve the advanced level of performance ability necessary to produce this fine a recording, and so make a voluntary donation, if they choose to download the disc.

Saturday’s program is equally compelling, as it includes the haunting and emotionally ambivalent String Quartet in A Minor, D. 804, “Rosamunde”, as well as Schubert’s farewell to the string quartet genre, the String Quartet in G Major, Op. 161, D. 887, composed during ten days in June 1826. Schubert played the viola part in the first, private performance of the work in 1827, and the first movement only was played at the work’s public premiere the next year. The first complete performance did not take place until 1850, and it was only published the next year, twenty-three years after the composer’s death. Strongly influenced by the string quartets of Beethoven, Schubert’s last quartet needs to be much better known.

Tickets: $15/10 seniors students; free for UB students. Information:

From the Dark into the Light

At 7:30pm on Tuesday September 29, BPO violinist Loren Silvertrust and BPO cellist Amelie Fradette will be joined by Buffalo State College pianist Susan Schuman in a wide-ranging evening of music for piano trio at the Montante Center of Canisius College, 2001 Main Street. Shostakovich’s composed his Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, for violin, cello and piano, Op. 67 in 1944, when the horrendously devastating tide of World War II on the Russian Front had finally turned in the Soviet’s favor, and the nature of the work reflects the circumstances of its composition. The composer later quoted the poignant Jewish melody from the work’s final movement in his String Quartet No.8, his most well-known work in the genre. While the final program order was not available at press time, the sunny nature of the other two works being presented fully justifies the idea of moving from the dark into the light. Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) is a set of four tango compositions by Astor Piazzolla, the master of tango nuevo, originally composed for his quintet of violin, piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneón, or Argentine accordion, but it works equally well in this arrangement for piano trio. Café Music was inspired by the American composer Paul Schoenfield’s gig as house pianist at a steakhouse in Minneapolis, and the work has since become one of the most engagingly popular contemporary chamber works in the repertoire.

Tickets: $15/7 students. Information: 888-2536.

blog comments powered by Disqus