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Beethoven “message to the future” to be communicated tonight at UB when Dover Quartet performs third concert in the Slee Cycle

*Postponed due to high winds

Beethoven “message to the future” to be communicated tonight at UB when Dover Quartet performs third concert in the Slee Cycle.

The UB Music Department presents the award-winning Dover Quartet tonight, March 8, in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on SUNY at Buffalo’s North Campus at 7:30 p.m.  Joel Link & Bryan Lee, violin; Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; and Camden Shaw, cello, will play, in order, music defined as “early, late, and middle period” Beethoven: his Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3; the “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133, and the Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1.

$15 general admission; $10 seniors/UB community/non-UB students; UB students free with valid ID. Tickets available at the door. Call 645-2921 or visit http://www.slee.buffalo.edu/

Over his lifetime, Beethoven’s music changed dramatically. So called “early” Beethoven (before 1800) sounds a lot like Mozart and Haydn (with whom Beethoven studied, but only briefly, because Beethoven didn’t take direction from others very well). And his collection of string quartets known as “Opus 18” was published as a group of six, because that’s the way it was done in the late 1700s. If you like Mozart and Haydn (and who doesn’t), you’ll like tonight’s first work on tonight’s program at Slee Hall (7:30 p.m. start), Beethoven’s Quartet in D, written in 1799.

It was in Beethoven’s “middle period” (in the early 1800s) where he started to stretch the boundaries of “classical” music. This is time of his groundbreaking “Eroica” and 5th Symphonies as his music became more emotionally complex. This is what most people think of when they think “Beethoven.” So, after about a seven year break from the Opus 18, Beethoven came back to string quartets in 1806 when his friend, the Russian ambassador Count Rasumovsky, commissioned three quartets which would (hopefully) use Russian themes. Not only did Beethoven admit to speaking with the Russian ambassador on more than one occasion, they were great friends, and the Opus 59 collection, dedicated to the Count, is known as “the Rasumovsky quartets.” So if you say “I like Beethoven” (and who doesn’t), then you will like the Quartet in F, Op. 59, No. 1 which closes tonight’s program in good spirits.

But what of that second piece of music which will be played tonight? After a break of almost twenty years, Beethoven finally came back to the string quartet form, and in the early 1820s he composed his quartets numbered 12 through 16. These are known as his “late style” quartets. Originally the finale to his String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major (1825) was a “great fugue” known by its German name “Grosse Fuge.”

At the time, performers, friends, and his publisher told him it was too much for audiences of the time. “Cattle!” “Asses!” were Beethoven’s responses, but ultimately he agreed to write an alternate ending to his Opus 130 and publish the fugue separately as Opus 133.

According to a bequest of Frederick and Alice Slee, every year since 1955, starting with the legendary Budapest String Quartet performances, Buffalo audiences have heard, in a prescribed order, every quartet Beethoven wrote, and they are played every year in that particular order. The bequest calls for one concert to offer Beethoven’s “late style” String Quartet No. 13 to be played with its alternate ending and another concert (on March 8th, tonight) to offer the original ending, the “great fugue” as a stand-alone piece.

Of that great fugue Beethoven said that he was writing not for his own time, but for the future. That future is here.

Of that great fugue Beethoven said that he was writing not for his own time, but for the future. That future is here. Imagine that Beethoven put a message in a bottle or time capsule and buried it. Now, almost 200 years later, as quartets have done in Buffalo since 1955, we get to open that message once again. In a conversation with the Dover Quartet’s cellist, Camden Shaw said that “kids and younger people love it… the rawness and the intensity.” And that the pinnacle of listening will come at the end of the fifteen-minute “Grosse Fugue.” When he was a student at the Curtis Institute (which he calls “The Hogwart’s of Music”) his cello teacher, Peter Wiley, (who played for many years with the famous Guarneri Quartet) told Shaw: “Just wait until you get to play the ending of the Grosse Fuge.” And, indeed, says Shaw: “There’s a moment right at the end, where we hear the theme of the fugue one last time with these stirring triplets underneath. It’s one of the most satisfying moments in all of music to play.”

The UB Music Department presents the award-winning Dover Quartet tonight, March 8, in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on SUNY at Buffalo’s North Campus at 7:30 p.m.  Joel Link & Bryan Lee, violin; Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola; and Camden Shaw, cello, will play, in order, music defined as “early, late, and middle period” Beethoven: his Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3; the “Grosse Fuge,” Op. 133, and the Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1.

$15 general admission; $10 seniors/UB community/non-UB students; UB students free with valid ID. Tickets available at the door. Call 645-2921 or visit http://www.slee.buffalo.edu/

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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