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BRAI is thrilled to again present the renowned Rimsky Korsakov String Quartet in concert in the Boston area, appearing for the first time in the remarkable aesthetic setting of the Museum of Modern Renaissance in Somerville.
Program (no intermission)
Sergei Prokofiev: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 50 (1921)
Samuel Barber: String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 (1936)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Two pieces for String Quartet op.36 (1931)
Silver Age music premiered in St. Petersburg musical salons
The evening's program showcases and juxtaposes the music of three composer contemporaries: Russian (Prokofiev), American (Barber) and Soviet (Shostakovich)--and concludes with a selection of short works by Silver Age composers premiered in St. Petersburg's musical salons. By playing the Prokofiev quartet, comissioned by and premiered at the Library of Congress but written in France, and the Barber, written in Austria and premiered preliminarily in Rome and in final revised form at the LoC, the quartet explores transatlantic musical connections. The concert also honors the 125th anniversary of Prokofiev’s birth, being celebrated in 2016.
The members of the Rimsky Korsakov String Quartet– Mikhail Bondarev (violin), Ekaterina Belisova (violin), Alexei Popov (viola) and Anton Andreev (cello) – are graduates of the prestigious Saint Petersburg Conservatory, and steeped in the grand tradition of Russian classical music. The quartet was founded in 1939, the oldest in Russia, and is regarded as a monument to Russian musical history. Since 1989, the group has been actively touring abroad in Europe, and more recently in the US and Canada, and has made appearances at the numerous renowned music festivals throughout Europe and the America, and consistently receive outstanding reviews.
Trained at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in composition, piano and organ (in that order), Sergei Prokofiev was a musical rebel who had already made a considerable name for himself as an avantgarde composer before leaving Russia for the US in March 1918. His First String Quartet, commissioned by the Library of Congress, had its world premiere in Washington in honor of the composer’s 40th birthday. A Moscow premiere followed in October 1921--almost exactly 85 years before this concert. The intensely emotional work is distinctive in many ways, but especially unusual due its key, B minor, a semitone below the limits of the viola and cello range, creating a unique sound. Famed Moscow critic Boris Asafyev wrote at the time, “There is true profundity in the sweeping melodic line and intensity of the finale. This movement strikes deep…”