“Superlatives are inadequate in describing just how fine this playing [by the Jerusalem Quartet] was.” —The Strad

“Inon Barnatan’s performance was “fine music-making wedded to astounding technique.” —The Washington Post

“Pavlovsky's tone in particular is a wonder.” —Broad Street Review

To close the Intimate Brahms series, pianist Inon Barnatan joins the Jerusalem Quartet for one of Brahms’ most passionate, powerful and popular works, the Quintet for Piano and Strings. This program is rounded out with the equally dark and tempestuous Violin Sonata in D minor, but contrasted with the sunny and bucolic String Quartet in B-flat, inspired by Mozart’s famous “Hunt” Quartet in the same key.

Jerusalem Quartet
      Alexander Pavlovsky, violin
      Sergei Bresler, violin
      Ori Kam, viola
      Kyril Zlotnikov, cello
Inon Barnatan, piano

BRAHMS: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 67
BRAHMS: Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor, Op. 108
BRAHMS: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34


This concert is approximately 1hour, 45 minutes long, with one intermission.

 

Subscribe and Save! This event can be purchased as part of the following subscription: Jerusalem Quartet—Series Subscription 2014/15. Learn about the benefits of subscribing.

Brahms Quintet Op. 34 4th movement with the Jerusalem Quartet and Ilan Rechtman.

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

BRAHMS: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 67

JOHANNES BRAHMS

Born in Hamburg, May 7, 1833; died in Vienna, April 3, 1897
String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 67
Composed between about 1865 and 1873; 29 minutes

Brahms began work on his third and last string quartet, Op. 67, in the summer of 1875. Not yet settled permanently in Vienna, the 42-year-old composer was lodging with a painter friend outside Heidelberg. The countrified setting was so idyllic that Brahms declined a tempting invitation to conduct his German Requiem in Munich. As he told a friend, “I stay sitting here, and from time to time write largely useless pieces in order not to have to look into the stern face of a symphony.” Among the “useless pieces” he produced that summer was the Quartet in B-flat major, the gayest and most accessible of the three, and Brahms’s personal favorite. A contemporary critic compared it favorably to the knotty Op. 51 quartets, observing that Brahms “this time seems to have decided to take the sunlit meadow-path.”

Whether consciously or otherwise, Brahms evokes the cheery mood and B-flat tonality of Mozart’s “Hunt” Quartet in the Vivace’s opening 6/8 theme (which, despite its jagged syncopations, one can easily imagine being played by horns), the profusion of cascading sixteenth notes, and the dance-like second subject in 2/4 time. Here, as elsewhere in the quartet, Brahms mixes meters, often setting two beats in one part against three in another. The two middle movements are a study in contrasts: tempo (Andante versus Allegretto), key (F major versus D minor) and character (warm and spacious versus driven and somewhat skittish). The third movement’s delicate coda comes to rest on a major chord that sets the stage for the finale, a delightful set of theme and variations in the home key, in which Brahms ingeniously brings back the two themes from the first movement.

The violinist Joseph Joachim, Brahms’s long-time artistic confidant, registered his unqualified approval of the B-flat-major Quartet: “You have probably never written such beautiful chamber music as in the D-minor movement [the Agitato] and the finale, the first full of magical romanticism, the last full of intimacy and grace within a fully artistic framework. But the original first movement and that short, so beautiful-sounding Andante are also not to be disregarded.”

© 2014 Harry Haskell

Back to Top

 
BRAHMS: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 67

Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor, Op. 108
Composed in 1886–1888; 22 minutes

Brahms first met Joachim in Hanover in the spring of 1853. Although only two years older than the composer, the concertmaster of the Hanover court orchestra was already an international celebrity. As much as Brahms admired Joachim’s virtuosity on the violin, he respected the Hungarian even more as a composer and frequently turned to him for advice. “As an artist I really have no greater wish than to have more talent so that I can learn still more from such a friend,” he wrote in the first flush of their friendship. Joachim, for his part, recognized Brahms’s character flaws as well as his genius. The composer, he confided to a friend, was “egoism incarnate,” whose “malicious sarcasm” and “exuberant thoughtlessness” often offended even his closest allies. Yet Joachim’s practical knowledge of both the violin and the orchestra made him an invaluable sounding board, especially in the decade between 1878 and 1888, when Brahms was writing his D-major Violin Concerto and three violin sonatas.

Brahms’s third sonata, in the “dark” key of D minor, is weightier and more overtly dramatic than its predecessors in G major and A major. Its dedicatee, Hans von Bülow, cut a notably titanic figure at the keyboard as well as on the podium, and the sonata’s impassioned, virtuosic character may well bear his stamp as much as that of Joachim. On a deeper level, the music may also allude to Brahms's long–simmering love for the pianist Clara Schumann, which every now and then rose to a rolling boil. That, at any rate, is how Clara seems to have interpreted the D-minor Sonata. Upon receiving the score, she wrote coquettishly to the 55-year-old composer that the third movement reminded her of “a beautiful girl sweetly frolicking with her lover—then suddenly in the middle of it all, a flash of deep passion, only to make way for sweet dalliance once more.”

Whatever the nature of the feelings it expresses, the Op. 108 Sonata is unmistakably infused with passion. From the first bars of the opening Allegro, the staggered 8th notes and recurrent dynamic swellings reflect the music’s underlying turbulence. The mood of barely contained wildness is briefly dispelled in the majestic D-major Adagio—despite its brevity, one of Brahms’s most concentratedly intense slow movements. This leads to an ethereal scherzo in F-sharp minor, marked Un poco presto e con sentimento (moderately fast and with feeling), whose opening theme returns at the end in a deceptively tranquil reminiscence. (Clara likened this delicate and devilishly difficult passage to walking on eggshells.) In the final Presto agitato, the sonata’s pent-up energy bursts forth in a high-spirited romp in 6/8 meter, charged with stabbing accents and syncopations.

Photo: Josef Joachim

© 2014 Harry Haskell

Back to Top

 
BRAHMS: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34

Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34
Composed in 1862–1865; 39 minutes

Brahms’s F-minor Piano Quintet has been described as a felicitous marriage of Beethovenian drama and Schubertian lyricism. The accolade surely would have delighted Brahms, for he was a passionate admirer and keen student of both composers. Beethoven’s characteristically dynamic energy is reflected in Brahms’s protean themes and the visceral vitality generated by his rhythms. Likewise, the Piano Quintet’s rich store of melodies and subtle harmonic shadings recall Schubert’s mastery of song and tonal chiaroscuro.

In its original form, as a string quintet (now lost) composed in 1862, Brahms’s Op. 34 owed an unmistakable debt to Schubert’s great C-major String Quintet. (Both works were scored for two violins, viola and two cellos.) Among Brahms’s artistic confidants, Clara Schumann unhesitatingly pronounced the first version a masterpiece, while Joseph Joachim criticized it as lacking in “charm.” Brahms subsequently recast the quintet as a Sonata for Two Pianos (known as Op. 34b). When Clara argued that the new piece was “so full of ideas” that only a full orchestra could do it justice, Brahms responded by reworking it once again, this time as a quintet for piano and strings. In this guise, as the musicologist Donald Francis Tovey observed, “the rhythmic incisiveness of the piano is happily combined with the singing powers of the bowed instruments.”

Despite its difficult gestation, the Piano Quintet ranks among Brahms’s most powerful and fully realized conceptions. The expansive melody that opens the Allegro non troppo, played in unison by the piano, first violin and cello, is almost immediately compressed into 16th-note passagework of mounting urgency and intensity. The first theme returns in the strings, louder and more majestic than before, above a cascade of falling arpeggios in the piano. A second subject of a milder and more lyrical character is introduced, only to be swept up in an undercurrent of ominously rumbling triplets. Henceforth, elements of these two basic ideas are combined, taken apart and reassembled with astonishing ingenuity as the movement works toward a thunderous climax.

The gently swaying rhythms of the Andante, which Clara Schumann described as “one long melody from start to finish,” signal an abrupt change of pace. Although the Quintet’s inner movements share the tonality of C minor, the tautly wound Scherzo is much the darker of the two. Its tense, demonic quality is only slightly tempered by the C-major radiance of the central Trio section. High drama returns in the Finale, which alternates between languid, mysterious reverie and outbursts of almost savage vehemence. In the end, Brahms’s instincts were proven right. As the conductor Hermann Levi told him, “Anyone who did not know the earlier forms of string quintet and piano sonata would not believe that it was not originally thought out and designed for the present combination of instruments.... You have turned a monotonous work for two pianos into a thing of great beauty...a masterpiece of chamber music.”

Photo: Clara Schumann

© 2014 Harry Haskell

Back to Top

 

Artist Bio

The Jerusalem Quartet

With their founding in the 1993/1994 season and subsequent 1996 debut, the Jerusalem Quartet (Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, violins; Ori Kam, viola; Kyril Zlotnikov, cello) embarked on a journey of growth and maturation that has resulted in a wide repertoire and a stunning depth of expression: a journey still motivated by the energy and curiosity with which the ensemble began. The ensemble of four Israeli musicians carries on the string quartet tradition in a unique manner.

The ensemble has found its inner center in a warm, full, human sound and the balance between high and low voices, giving it the freedom both to refine its interpretations of the classical repertoire and to explore the works of new genres and epochs. It has collaborated with exceptional musicians such as Martin Fröst, Steven Isserlis, Sharon Kam, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Alexander Melnikov and András Schiff.

The Jerusalem Quartet is a regular and welcome guest on the world’s great concert stages. The ensemble has been especially well-received in North America, where it has performed in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Washington. The 2012/13 season saw two extended tours through the US. In Europe, as well, the quartet enjoys an enthusiastic reception, having appeared in prominent concert halls such as the Zürich Tonhalle, the Munich Herkulessaal, Wigmore Hall in London, and the Parisian Salle Pleyel, as well as special guest performances at the Auditorium du Louvre Paris, the Hamburg Ostertöne Festival and at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.

The Jerusalem Quartet has an exclusive recording contract with Harmonia Mundi. Recordings of Haydn’s string quartets and Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” have been honored with numerous awards such as the Diapason d’or, the BBC Music Magazine Award for chamber music, and the ECHO Klassik. In 2003, the Quartet placed at the first Borletti-Buitoni Trust Awards. From 1999 to 2001, it was part of the new series BBC New Generation Artists.

The string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich were the focus of the 2013/2014 season. The ensemble presented the entire quartet cycle in New York’s Alice Tully Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Hamburg’s Laeiszhalle and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The season’s programs also featured works by Mozart, Haydn and Brahms, as well as the premiere of Brian Elias’s string quartets. The newest recording of works by Leoš Janáček und Bedřich Smetana came out this past January 2014, further securing the quartet’s place among world-class ensembles. The Jerusalem Quartet will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the 2015/2016 season. Its website is jerusalem-quartet.com.

Photo by Felix Broede

Back to Top


Details & Ordering

  • Jerusalem Quartet: Intimate Brahms III

    Date: Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 7:30 pm

    Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd St

    Venue: Kaufmann Concert Hall

    Price: from $35.00

    Buy Tickets

    Select your seating preferences:

    Best Available Seats Select Your Own Seats

    APPLY

     

    Standard *35 & Under

    1) CHOOSE PRICE:

    $62 $25

    2) CHOOSE QUANTITY:


    You'll be able to review your seat numbers and location during check-out. Seats are automatically selected as best available at time of purchase.

    * 35 and under tickets are available for patrons ages 35 and under. ID’s will be checked at the door.

    SELECT YOUR OWN SEAT Add to Cart
    Accessibility
    Accessibility

    If you require special seating considerations, such as wheelchair accessible seating or hearing assistance, please call Customer Service at 212.415.5500 during our Hours of Operation.



Need Help?

If you have any questions, need assistance with your order or require special seating considerations, such as wheelchair accessible seating or hearing assistance, please call Customer Service at 212.415.5500 during our Hours of Operation.

If you prefer, you can order your tickets and class enrollments by calling Customer Service at 212.415.5500 during our Hours of Operation, using Visa, MasterCard or American Express. You can also place your order by fax, by mail, or in person at our Box Office on Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street.

Have a group?

Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount. Please note that certain events may not qualify for a group rate. To make group arrangements or need further assistance, you may contact Customer Service at 212.415.5500 during our Hours of Operation.


About 92Y YourStage

92Y YourStage provides a venue for independent curators, performers, and educators to mount a professional production. Yourstage events are confirmed once they meet a threshold for ticket sales by a certain date.

YourStage events that are ON have been confirmed; PENDING events need to generate more ticket sales; If an event fails to generate enough ticket sales, the event will be CALLED OFF, and all ticket holders will be refunded.

Get to the front of the line!

Priority registration puts you at the front of the line to register for courses and events for an upcoming semester.

Eligible patrons will be able to order priority registration online.

 

Who is eligible for priority registration?

Individuals who have participated in 92nd Street Y programs over the past year in selected program areas, participants in certain memberships, and those who have made contributions of $500 or more to 92Y, are eligible to register for programs before they become available to the general public.

How do I know if I qualify?

Patrons that qualify for Priority Registration will receive packets in the mail explaining how to purchase online. Priority registration is normally mailed 2-3 weeks before a catalog is available. Registration information includes your Patron ID#. You can use this ID# to setup your login information online. This will allow you to register early for a course or event. Please note: if you receive a packet, you are only eligible to priority register for the programs covered in your packet.

Priority Registration Support

To find out if you are eligible for priority registration, don't have your Patron ID#, or having difficulty ordering online, please call 212.415.5500 or email.