| Willy Sucre
Host of the Chamber Concert Series at New Mexico Tech
Sponsors are Dr. Daniel H. López, Tech President, and the Socorro Springs Restaurant and Brewery.
“These concerts are always interesting, exposing audiences to works they have never heard before,” said Ronna Kalish, Director of New Mexico Tech’s Performing Arts Series. “Yet there is always something on the program steeped in the classic tradition of chamber music. And the musicianship is top-notch. We are so lucky to have this program, offered free to the Socorro community.”
John Bullock, composer-in-residence with the Placitas Artists Series, was asked to compose a fanfare to commemorate its 25th anniversary, and the serendipitous result was “The Silver Anniversary Overture, or Pomp and Circumstances Beyond My Control,” which will open Monday’s program.
After the overture, the quartet will perform “String Quartet in F” by Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), commonly regarded as the founder of Russian nationalism in music, followed by an intermission.
Sucre and friends will close the program with Ludwig van Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 6 Op. 18.” The German composer and pianist (1770-1827) wrote the string quartet in B Flat Major as the last of a set of six string quartets published as Opus 18 in 1800.
Bullock had this to say about his anniversary composition: “It quickly grew to a larger work in the form of an overture for string quartet. As sometimes happens, the piece took on a life of its own, hence the subtitle.
The overture is comprised of one movement in four sections, and is laced with contrasts in time and tone.
“The first and third sections are slow and traditional, the second and fourth are fast and jazzy,” Bullock said.
Major and minor keys alternate, “yet, somehow, it all works together,” he said. The overture, which will debut on Sunday, Jan. 22, marks the fourth world premier of Bullock’s works performed by Willy Sucre and Friends, and he gratefully dedicated it to them.
Glinka was the first Russian composer to create romances, operas and chamber music based on cultural themes using Russian folk melodies. His string quartet No. 2 in F Major dates from 1829-30, when the composer was about age 26.
Those familiar with Glinka’s work can recognize some of the main themes from his second opera, “Ruslan and Ludmila,” which was composed 12 years later. These themes occur in both the first and last of four movements, which is written in a light style that seems to combine Italian opera with Mozart.
Particularly noteworthy are the menuetto (movement in 3/4 time that is usually the third, but sometimes the second, of a four-movement symphony or string quartet) and its excellent trio, as well as the finale. This quartet was not published until 1878, 11 years after Glinka’s death.
Beethoven wrote the sixth quartet of Op. 18 fifth, but placed it last because of its lengthy, slow introduction to the last movement, “La Malinconia” (melancholy), which gave the work its subtitle.
From the viewpoint of musical development, this introduction is decades ahead of the rest of Op. 18. In some ways, it presages the late quartets of the 1820s, with its moving evocation of grief and despair; it provides, as well, an insight into the depths of Beethoven’s emotional state.
The young composer’s hearing was already seriously deteriorating, a fact which he was still trying to hide from even his most intimate friends. Joseph de Marliave, in his oft quoted study Beethoven’s Quartets (1925) commented: “In these works of Beethoven’s youth, the clarity and freshness of Haydn are found linked with the grace of Mozart, but so far from being a slavish imitation of these two Masters, they form, as it were, the crowning achievement of their art.”
– NMT –
By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech