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St. Lawrence String Quartet
Inon Barnatan, Piano

Thursday, November 8, 2018 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
St. Lawrence String Quartet and Inon Barnatan by Marco Borggreve
Haydn’s quartet is an edgy exploration of asymmetrical phrases, dissonant flashes, and abrupt dynamic shifts, while Beethoven’s final quartet has abundant good humor—particularly a slapstick episode in the Scherzo where the first violin takes flight as other players repeat a churning, comic figure 48 times. Shostakovich’s quintet is also open-hearted with powerful expression and technical brilliance going hand-in-hand. Its piano part is stunning, particularly the giddy whirlwind Scherzo that will showcase the mastery of Inon Barnatan, “one of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times).


St. Lawrence String Quartet
·· Geoff Nuttall, Violin
·· Owen Dalby, Violin
·· Lesley Robertson, Viola
·· Christopher Costanza, Cello
Inon Barnatan, Piano


HAYDN String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 20, No. 3

BEETHOVEN String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135

SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57


SCHUMANN Scherzo: Molto vivace from Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A.E. Charitable Foundation.

At a Glance

HAYDN  String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 20, No. 3

Haydn’s six Op. 20 string quartets dazzled audiences in the 1770s with their prodigal display of formal and melodic invention. By making the four players more or less equal partners, Haydn distanced himself from the top-heavy part writing that characterized the instrumental chamber music of the Rococo period. Although it is designated a divertimento a quattro on the manuscript, the Quartet No. 3 marks a sharp departure from the old-style string ensembles.


BEETHOVEN  String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135

Beethoven’s 16 string quartets are the Mount Everest of the genre, the pinnacle which other composers have long aspired to scale. All five of his late-period quartets were composed between the summer of 1824 and the autumn of 1826. In contrast to the three knotty quartets (opp. 127, 130, and 132) written for Prince Nikolai Golitsyn, Beethoven’s Russian patron, the F-Major Quartet is a lucid, lighthearted work in a traditional four-movement format.


SHOSTAKOVICH  Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57

In the summer of 1940, the Soviet Union was enjoying a brief respite from war, thanks to its short-lived pact with Nazi Germany. Although resolutely apolitical, Shostakovich couldn’t insulate himself from the paranoia and anxiety that affected every echelon of Soviet society in the wake of Stalin’s Great Terror. Like much of his music, the Piano Quintet veers from one stylistic and emotional extreme to another. In harmonizing these diverse and often discordant elements, the Russian composer created a highly personal musical language of extraordinary power and beauty. 


St. Lawrence String Quartet

“Modern,” “dramatic,” “superb,” “wickedly attentive,” and “a hint of rock ‘n’ roll energy” are just a few ways ...

“Modern,” “dramatic,” “superb,” “wickedly attentive,” and “a hint of rock ‘n’ roll energy” are just a few ways critics describe the musical phenomenon that is the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ). The SLSQ is renowned for the intensity of its performances, its breadth of repertoire, and its commitment to concert experiences that are at once intellectually exciting and emotionally alive. Highlights in 2018–2019 include performances with pianist Inon Barnatan and the long-awaited release of the quartet’s recording of Haydn’s Op. 20 quartets.

Fiercely committed to collaboration with living composers, the SLSQ’s fruitful partnerships with John Adams, Jonathan Berger, Osvaldo Golijov, and many others have yielded some of the finest additions to the quartet literature in recent years. The quartet is also especially dedicated to the music of Haydn—according to The New Yorker, “No other North American quartet plays the music of Haydn with more intelligence, expressivity, and force.”

Established in Toronto in 1989, the SLSQ quickly earned acclaim at top international chamber music competitions and was soon playing hundreds of concerts a year worldwide. It established an ongoing residency at Spoleto Festival USA and made prize-winning recordings of music by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Golijov for EMI Records, earning two Grammy nominations and a host of other prizes before being appointed ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University in 1999.

At Stanford, the SLSQ is at the forefront of intellectual life on campus. The quartet directs the music department’s chamber music program and frequently collaborates with other departments, including the schools of law, medicine, business, and education. The quartet performs regularly at Stanford Live, hosts an annual chamber music seminar, and runs the Emerging String Quartet Program, through which the musicians mentor the next generation of young quartets. In the words of Alex Ross of The New Yorker, “The St. Lawrence are remarkable not simply for the quality of their music making, exalted as it is, but for the joy they take in the act of connection.”

Visit slsq.com for more information.

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Inon Barnatan

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry.  ...

“One of the most admired pianists of his generation” (The New York Times), Inon Barnatan is celebrated for his poetic sensibility, musical intelligence, and consummate artistry. He is the recipient of both a prestigious 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes “young artists of exceptional accomplishment.” He was recently named music director of the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, beginning in 2019.

A regular soloist with many of the world’s foremost orchestras and conductors, the Israeli pianist recently served three seasons as the inaugural artist-in-association of the New York Philharmonic. This season, he plays Beethoven with Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra led by Alan Gilbert, Mozart with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in New York’s Alice Tully Hall, and Rachmaninoff with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, again led by Mr. Gilbert. In recent seasons, he made debuts at the BBC Proms; with the London and Helsinki philharmonic orchestras; with the Chicago, Baltimore, Fort Worth, and Indianapolis symphony orchestras; and with the Nashville, San Diego, and Seattle symphonies.

A sought-after chamber musician, Mr. Barnatan collaborates this season with the Dover Quartet, and the Calidore and St. Lawrence string quartets; and tours the US and Europe with his frequent collaborator, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, along with violinist Sergey Khachatryan and percussionist Colin Currie. He makes his recital debut in the International Piano Series at London’s Southbank Centre, and plays additional recitals at the Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall and Boston’s Celebrity Series, where he has appeared in various configurations since 2008. His passion for contemporary music has seen him commission and perform many works by living composers, including premieres of pieces by Thomas Adès, Sebastian Currier, Avner Dorman, Alan Fletcher, Joseph Hallman, Alasdair Nicolson, Andrew Norman, and Matthias Pintscher.

“A born Schubertian” (Gramophone), Mr. Barnatan’s critically acclaimed discography includes Avie and Bridge recordings of the Austrian composer’s solo piano works, as well as the album Darknesse Visible, which The New York Times included on its “Best of 2012” list. His most recent release is a live recording of Messiaen’s 90-minute masterpiece Des canyons aux étoiles, in which he played the formidable solo piano part at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. His 2015 Decca Classics release of Rachmaninoff’s and Chopin’s cello sonatas with Ms. Weilerstein earned rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

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