Performance Friday, November 7, 2014 | 7:30 PM

Apollon Musagète Quartet

Weill Recital Hall
A fascinating variety of quartet styles from Central and Eastern Europe are featured. Commissioned by Vienna’s Hellmesberger Quartet, Dvořák set aside his Czech nationalism in his String Quartet in C Major, a work looking back to the quartets of the Viennese school. Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 4 opens in pastoral calm, but grows more intense as it explores Jewish themes—a potentially lethal path in the time of Stalin’s Jewish purges. Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 2, with its wide spectrum of color and expression, is one of the Polish master’s finest works.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Apollon Musagète Quartet
    ·· Pawel Zalejski, Violin
    ·· Bartosz Zachlod, Violin
    ·· Piotr Szumiel, Viola
    ·· Piotr Skweres, Cello


  • DVOŘÁK String Quartet No. 11 in C Major, Op. 61
  • SZYMANOWSKI String Quartet No. 2
  • SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No. 4 in D Major


Brahms's Quartet in A Minor, Op. 51 (Allegro non assai)
Apollon Musagáte Quartet;

At a Glance

ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK  String Quartet No. 11 in C Major, Op. 61

The C-Major Quartet of 1881 marked a turning point in Dvořák’s artistic development. With his international career booming and his works being championed by a prominent German publisher, the Czech composer set out to overcome his reputation as a musical nationalist in the mold of Bedřich Smetana and cultivate a more sophisticated, cosmopolitan profile. As a result, the C-Major Quartet is short on Slavonic character but long on compositional mastery.   

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI  String Quartet No. 2, Op. 56

Szymanowski, widely considered the most significant Polish composer since Chopin, was hoping to cash in when he wrote his Second String Quartet in 1927 and submitted it to a contest sponsored by the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. Although he failed to take home a prize, the quartet quickly won favor with audiences and performers alike. Among Szymanowski’s last major works, it shows the influence of Leoš Janáček and Béla Bartók in its terse motivic construction.

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH  String Quartet No. 4 in D Major, Op. 83

Like most of Shostakovich’s works, the Jewish-flavored D-Major Quartet has a political subtext: It was written in 1949, shortly after Stalin rescinded an official ban on many of the composer’s works and dispatched him to New York to represent the Soviet regime at a Communist-inspired conference on world peace. Even so, Shostakovich was taking no chances; he refused to allow the Fourth Quartet to be performed in public until after the dictator’s death in 1953.

This performance is part of Quartets Plus.

Part of