Garneau String Quartet
“Viennese Elegance and Bohemian Spirit”

Evergreen Theatre, 5001 Joyce Ave, Powell River

Tuesday June 18 – 7:30 PM

About the Garneau String Quartet

In the earlier days of the COVID pandemic, after a series of outdoor concerts, the Garneau String Quartet was formed and recently became Ensemble-in-Residence at MacEwan University Conservatory of Music in Edmonton, Alberta. The quartet is comprised of members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra – violinists Robert Uchida and Laura Veeze, violist Keith Hamm, and cellist Julie Hereish.

As part of their residency, the quartet performs a series of concerts throughout the season. They also coach young artists in the Chamber Music Academy Program who work with guest artists, and participate in performance classes and recitals. The GSQ has toured the province of Alberta and has collaborated with artists such as Tom
Allen, Lori Gemmel, Philip Chiu, Desmond Hoebig, Jessica Linnebach, and the Rosebud
String Quartet.

The quartet gratefully acknowledges the support of the descendants of Eleanor and Laurent Garneau, for whom music and music making was, and is, a great source of inspiration and expression.

Photo: Erik Visser

About the Repertoire

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, “Prussian” No. 1, KV 575

I. Allegretto 

II. Andante

III. Menuetto. Allegretto – Trio

IV. Allegretto

In this quartet, Mozart’s writing has richness and body with every movement offering cello solos with the instrument at the top of its range. In order to accommodate these, Mozart gives similar solos to the other quartet members, varying the line and texture to avoid repetitiveness. The work is a mature masterpiece, like Mozart’s last symphonies, showing new strength. Its character is optimistic and playful. 

The Allegro first movement features an old style of “singing” theme animated by appoggiaturas and rapid rhythmic figures. Because the second principal theme has such similarity to the first, Mozart adds variety by introducing a completely new theme in the short development section. 

The second, compact movement, Andante, is slow but only relatively so. Its melody has similarities to the song “Das Veilchen” K. 476, Mozart’s only setting of a Goethe poem. Here, development is very important. 

The third movement, Menuetto, includes strong sforzati, a kind of loud accenting similar to those Beethoven later used. In its contrasting central Trio section, the cello has a prominent lyrical melody. 

In the last movement, Allegretto, the cello articulates the main theme, a recurring subject derived from the subject of the first movement. Counterpoint soon complements the these, and the process repeats with different combinations of instruments. In addition, Mozart inverts the theme and establishes a Rondo with variations. 

Susan Halpern, Friends of Music

Erwin Schulhoff (1894 – 1941)

Five Pieces for String Quartet (1924)

Piece 1: Viennese Waltz

Piece 2: Serenade

Piece 3: Czech folk music

Piece 4: Tango

Piece 5: Tarantella

Each of the five pieces takes a dance form or, in one case, a musical genre from a different country and distorts it with a lot of humor. 

The first movement is called a ‟Viennese waltz,” but it is notated in 4/4 time as the waltz rhythm is frequently tripped up by extra beats. Also, Schulhoff used harmonies that one would be hard pressed to find in the works of Johann Strauss, Jr. 

The second movement, a ‟Serenade” in 5/8, contains some distant echoes of Spanish music, with its free-flowing melody and a frequently repeated, characteristic cadential formula. Some of the plucked chords might allude to guitars but the delicate string writing, with its special techniques such as col legno (with the wood of the bow) or sul ponticello (near the bridge) transcends geographical boundaries. 

The third movement, by contrast, takes us back to Schulhoff’s homeland. It is a preciously bitonal Slavonic Dance that would raise the eyebrows of Antonín Dvořák.  In the fourth movement, Schulhoff pays homage to Argentinian tango with a personal take on the milonga, filled with languorous sensuality.  The set ends with what starts out as a dashing, chromatic Italian tarantella, with some unexpected adventures along the way.

Peter Laki, Cleveland Chamber Music Society

Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)

String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106, B. 192 (1895)

I. Allegro moderato

II. Adagio ma non troppo

III. Molto vivace

IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto – Allegro con fuoco

In a fine touch of artistic unity, the distinctive opening flourishes, featuring trills and falling arabesques, appear at the beginning of the first movement and reappear towards the end of the very last. In a cyclic construction, the finale recalls the first movement’s two main themes and even a hint of the second movement as the overall quartet recalls its origins like a memory. The second, slow movement is astonishing. It might best be described as a double set of variations as it alternates between two themes, one warm, bright, simple and unified like a choir, the other dark and complex with the texture unraveled into separate strands. As the music oscillates between hope and despair, the variations become more grand and emphatic, the emotions more intense and the dramatic catharsis more profound. The third movement is a characteristically vital scherzo that inverses the previous movement’s dark-within-light with an outer driven, furioso dance giving way, twice, to a softer, more relaxed trio within. As if mirroring the first movement’s introduction, the last movement begins with a long sigh before plunging headlong into a scintillating perpetual motion that sustains the high energy of a classical rondo finale. It traverses a panorama of episodic contrasts that eventually recall the quartet’s beginnings before snapping back into its fully “amped” conclusion.

Kai Christiansen