What a back story: now one of the most revered and powerful works of chamber music, the Quartet for the End of Time had extremely humble beginnings. It was first presented on a cold January night in 1941 at a German prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag VIIIA. Four inmates including captured French soldier-composer Olivier Messiaen played the ethereal music on dilapidated instruments to a rapt audience of hundreds of hardened soldiers who were silenced and moved by the great emotional range and engagement of the piece. Polish-born Mieczysław Weinberg, too, was a political refugee who fled to the Soviet Union when Poland was invaded by the Germans in 1939. A prolific composer whose music is often colored by Jewish rhythms and melodies, he wrote his Clarinet Sonata shortly after he was befriended by Dmitri Shostakovich.
The concert is performed by four of the most sought-after young virtuosos on the classical music scene today – Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet; Elena Urioste, violin; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; and Michael Brown, piano. The friends enjoy cooking together, eliciting guttural laughs from each other, and going in search for the perfect pour-over cup of coffee during their travels – in addition to being extremely like-minded about their approaches to music, repertoire preferences, and rehearsal dynamics.
6:30pm pre-concert lecture with Seth Brodsky
Weinberg: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 28
Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time)