SSQ season concludes May 19 with Haydn, Britten and Elgar

The Spokane String Quartet concludes its 2023-24 season Sunday, May 19, with a concert featuring music by Joseph Haydn, Benjamin Britten and Edward Elgar. The concert begins at 3 p.m. at The Bing Crosby Theater.

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The concert opens with Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2, and Britten’s 3 Divertimenti for String Quartet (1933). After the intermission the concert concludes with Elgar’s String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83.

Other composers wrote earlier string quartets, but Joseph Haydn is regarded as the “father of the string quartet” based on structural and textural changes pioneered in his six quartets of Opus 20. No longer were string quartets considered light entertainment where the first violin was predominant and the remaining quartet members played subordinate accompaniment. Opus 20, No. 2 highlights that change from the very first measure as the cello introduces the melody, accompanied by the viola and second violin. Thus, the string quartet became a more democratic conversation between four equal voices able to convey deep musical thought and emotions with four-part harmony and counterpoint.

Edward Elgar composed “patriotic” works at the beginning of World War I followed by creative withdrawal as the war’s incomprehensible destruction unfolded. At age 61, he and Lady Elgar moved back to the Sussex countryside where Elgar regained creative strength from nature, though on quiet days they could hear cannon fire from France during the war’s conclusion. The E Minor String Quartet is one of three chamber masterpieces composed at this time, along with working on his beloved Cello Concerto. Lady Elgar described the second movement as “captured sunshine,” yet this work is no pastoral idyll as Elgar powerfully and introspectively faces a changed world.

Benjamin Britten, at age 20 in 1933, composed a suite of three musical portraits of Britten’s school friends, which was extensively revised into the 3 Divertimenti for String Quartet (1936). Unlike Elgar’s Late Romantic Style, one can hear the modern influences of Stravinsky and Bartok in Britten’s delightful composition. 

All seats are general admission and are available through TicketsWest or at the door. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and free for persons under 18 and students with ID.