Program Notes

Reprintable only with the permission from the author.


Brahms - Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34

The combination of string quartet and piano makes the piano quintet a singularly powerful ensemble as it joins two self-sufficient forces in a grand partnership. As a genre it occurs far less frequently in the repertoire than string or piano quartets, but there are noteworthy examples of the piano quintet amongst the works of several of the greatest composers, including Schumann, Franck, Brahms, Dvořák, Fauré and Shostakovich.


Chan - An AIDS Activist's Memoir In Music

In the years 1991-1996 I was an AIDS activist. Those years were the height of the epidemic, but also the journey to the crisis' end.

I saw AIDS transformed from a frightening, near-universally fatal illness to what it is today, a chronic manageable condition. This transformation took place within a mere two decades of identifying HIV. In the history of medicine, there had never been progress made at such speed with a disease that was, frankly, so paralyzingly dazzling in its complexity.


Haydn - String Quartet Op. 77/1

Op. 77, comprising two quartets, was Haydn’s swan song in the genre. Composed in 1799, they were commissioned by Prince Joseph Lobkowitz, Vienna’s leading patron of the arts. These final quartets represent Haydn’s most modern, consolidated and polished efforts in the form with many forward-looking aspects.


Kats-Chernin - Blue Silence, complete works for string quartet

Most of Elena’s string quartets are miniatures. They are often revisions of pieces written for other instruments (the composer prefers to call them re-versions) and present a cross section of Elena’s musical styles. In these playful, intense pieces we see the composer moving with superb fluidity across the boundaries between serious music and entertainment. More so than in many of her large scale works we see the inner thoughts of the composer revealed; her compassion, suffering, joy and tireless energy.


Mozart - Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K 581

Mozart wrote a number of chamber works for strings and a wind instrument, including the flute, oboe, horn and clarinet. In each case, he managed to showcase the idiomatic character of the featured instrument while setting it naturally within a chamber context for a balanced, blended ensemble.


Raphael - String Quartet No. 6, Op. 54

Like many other musicians, artists, and men of letters, Raphael got caught in the field of tension produced by dictatorship and racist madness during the Nazi period from 1933 to 1945. Although his oeuvre was not branded as ‘degenerate’ – mainly because he was too firmly rooted in the German music tradition for such a label – his Jewish heritage on his father’s side made him ‘persona non-grata’, and in 1934 he lost his teaching position.


Schubert - String Quartet No. 10, D. 87

During his short but prolific career, Franz Schubert produced masterpieces in nearly every genre, all characterised by rich harmonies and an expansive treatment of classical forms, combined with a seemingly endless gift for melody.


Schubert - String Quartet No. 13, D. 804 'Rosamunde'

We know from Schubert’s letters and contemporary reports that both his physical and mental health were in a fragile state during this period of his life. Profoundly depressed by his advanced syphilis, his sense of mortality was intensified. In a distressing letter to his friend Leopold Kupelwieser, he confided: ‘I feel myself 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.’