Recording

Schubert: Cello Quintet D. 956 Michael Kannen, cello Listen to these clips: Cello Quintet, 1st movement Cello Quintet, 2nd movement

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Program Note

Schubert was a poet of unfulfillable longing, of human vulnerability, of the excruciating sweetness of the yearning to be at peace. He famously said of himself

I feel myself to be the most unfortunate, the most miserable being in the world. Think of a man whose health will never be right again, and who from despair over the fact makes it worse instead of better, think of a man, I say, whose splendid hopes have come to naught, to whom the happiness of love and friendship offers nothing but acutest pain, whose enthusiasm (at least, the inspiring kind) for the Beautiful threatens to disappear, and ask yourself whether he isn’t a miserable, unfortunate fellow.

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Program Note

Borges writes, in his poem Adam Is Your Ashes: “ All things are their own prophecy of dust. / Iron is rust. The voice, already echo.” The fluid duality which suffuses our experience of the world, joy that melts into sorrow and sorrow that is tinged with hope, is at the very core of Schubert’s music. His experience of time can be more painterly than narrative; all is present simultaneously and we need to approach his works with a patience that allows us to grasp his yearning toward acceptance rather than resolution.

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Project

For this “Fragments” project we are exploring the idea of this linkage, reentering abandoned imagined spaces to discover what they might suggest when examined from a fresh perspective. [VIDEO]

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Project

Stylistic progression over an artistic lifetime is often a complex, even convoluted journey, a refashioning of texture, rhetoric and form to suit the expressive concerns of a personal historical moment.

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Post

Our first violinist Mark Steinberg introduces the Fragments Project

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Program Note

Ushering in the set of three great string quartets Schubert wrote at the end of his life is a torso of a work, the Quartettsatz (quartet movement) in c minor, written in 1820. This powerful movement was originally intended to be the first movement of a full quartet, and there exists a sketch for the opening of a second movement as well. It is not known why Schubert never completed the work, but the movement he did write is a masterpiece fully worthy of being in the company of the later, last three quartets.

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Program Note

From the very first phrase of the C Major Quintet all is laid bare. The opening C Major harmony is the very embodiment of stability and purity, and yet it destabilizes immediately, gapes open and exposes a previously hidden harsh dissonance, then turns back to the opening harmony, now, in one fell swoop, stripped of its innocence.

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