Out of Berlin

RISE: Made up of cellist Alice Gott, violinists Mayumi Kanagawa, Jos Jonker and Albin Uusijärvi, The Lazarus String Quartet’s New Zealand tour brings them to Gisborne with the support of arts patron, Professor Jack Richards. Pictures supplied
Alice Gott
Albin Uusijarvi
Mayumi Kanagawa

From the 23 quartets 18th century genius Wolfgang Mozart wrote in his lifetime, six of them inspired Joseph Haydn to tell Mozart’s father his son was the finest composer in the world.

Mozart’s E-flat Quartet is the third of that set of six Mozart dedicated to his older contemporary, Haydn. Made up of four movements, the work will be part of the Lazarus String Quartet’s concert at Tairawhiti Museum on Wednesday.

The Lazarus String Quartet derived its name from when the group formed 12 years ago but struggled with its formation for a while, says New Zealand-born, Amsterdam-based cellist Alice Gott.

“After that difficult time of formation we called ourselves Lazarus because we had risen from the dead and because the name sounds good.”

The original string quartet was originally made up of four New Zealanders who moved to Berlin together. Lazarus reformed and is now made up of Gott, Japanese-American violinist Mayumi Kanagawa, Dutch violinist Jos Jonker, Swedish violinist Albin Uusijärvi.

Notes the musicians have composed about the works they will play next week, and chats they have with the audience, help concertgoers visualise what is behind the pieces.

The quartet’s writing is so evocative an abridged version of those musical notes is included here.

The first part of the concert will be a performance of Mozart’s String Quartet No.16 in E flat Major K.428 which is made up of four movements and begins with Allegro non troppo.

The first movement opens with an unusual chromatic, unison melody, that contains many notes alien to the key of E-flat This sets a pathway for the harmonic adventures to come. A warmer passage follows and the E-flat tonality is established.

Mozart subtly uses his opening theme throughout; unharmonised, harmonised and eventually in canon (a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration). The movement ends equally as unusually as it began — without a coda, a passage that brings a piece to an end.

The melodies of the Andante con moto are not distinctive, but the chromatic harmonies are more interesting. The music has a dreamlike quality, and the frequent use of dissonant suspensions and passing notes are all the more effective for having been foreshadowed in the first four bars of the quartet.

The opening of the Menuetto provides the first forceful rhythmic impulse of the piece — a clear nod to Haydn’s humour and spirit. Jokes out of stuttering motions are present, as are passages that get stuck and go around in circles before finding their way out again. By contrast, the trio section is pure Mozart. The smoother, rather melancholy sound brings back the work’s more sombre character.

The Allegro vivace completely changes the quartet’s mood to one of cheerfulness. The opening theme approaches on tiptoe so the listener is unpre­pared for the explosion of violin brilliance that follows. The attractive tunes, unexpected silences and wit show Haydn’s influence. The main theme appears throughout, and is adorned with a whistling melody in the first violin on its final return. The music dwindles to a pinpoint before clobbering the audience with four final, triumphal chords.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Op. 18 No. 6 in B flat major makes up the second part of the programme. Beethoven was influenced greatly by “the father of the string quartet”, Haydn, as well as by Mozart, for his first cycle of six string quartets. Almost 30 years old and losing his hearing this work opens full of joy and humour but travels to more daring ground in the last movement. Here it explores stark dualities and juxtapositions within one whole, an important element in his works to follow.

Full of Haydn-esque vivacity and humour, the Allegro con brio opens with a conversation between first violin and cello, kept briskly apace by the middle voices. Everyone comes together for a gentler second theme, while the development begins with small interjections and exchanges of ascending scales with constantly running eight notes. This evolves into a lyrical dialogue between the upper and lower voices before a surprise return to the opening for the recapitulation.

This movement opens with a simple melody in the first violin. Together with a mysterious and darker middle section, the melody is exchanged throughout the players with increasingly intricate and delicate ornamentations. Despite the decorations, the simplicity of the main melody leaves the listener unprepared for the following scherzo. The complex syncopations make it hard for musicians to find the beat — a challenge for the players and listeners alike.

The last movement’s unusual title derives from melas- ‘black’ and khole- ‘bile’, a humour believed to cause melancholia or depression. The composer made an additional instruction to treat this piece with the utmost delicacy. The harmonically radical, nearly random sounding adagio (slow time) ultimately has a long emotional trajectory, before abruptly moving on to the charming allegretto quasi allegro (fairly brisk but in the manner of slow time). The adagio returns in the midst of the dance in increasingly shorter and closer bursts, until the dance ultimately triumphs in a prestissimo (as fast a tempo as possible) ending.

The Lazarus String Quartet performs at Tairawhiti Museum on Wednesday at 5.30pm. Adults $5 at the door, children and students with ID free.

From the 23 quartets 18th century genius Wolfgang Mozart wrote in his lifetime, six of them inspired Joseph Haydn to tell Mozart’s father his son was the finest composer in the world.

Mozart’s E-flat Quartet is the third of that set of six Mozart dedicated to his older contemporary, Haydn. Made up of four movements, the work will be part of the Lazarus String Quartet’s concert at Tairawhiti Museum on Wednesday.

The Lazarus String Quartet derived its name from when the group formed 12 years ago but struggled with its formation for a while, says New Zealand-born, Amsterdam-based cellist Alice Gott.

“After that difficult time of formation we called ourselves Lazarus because we had risen from the dead and because the name sounds good.”

The original string quartet was originally made up of four New Zealanders who moved to Berlin together. Lazarus reformed and is now made up of Gott, Japanese-American violinist Mayumi Kanagawa, Dutch violinist Jos Jonker, Swedish violinist Albin Uusijärvi.

Notes the musicians have composed about the works they will play next week, and chats they have with the audience, help concertgoers visualise what is behind the pieces.

The quartet’s writing is so evocative an abridged version of those musical notes is included here.

The first part of the concert will be a performance of Mozart’s String Quartet No.16 in E flat Major K.428 which is made up of four movements and begins with Allegro non troppo.

The first movement opens with an unusual chromatic, unison melody, that contains many notes alien to the key of E-flat This sets a pathway for the harmonic adventures to come. A warmer passage follows and the E-flat tonality is established.

Mozart subtly uses his opening theme throughout; unharmonised, harmonised and eventually in canon (a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration). The movement ends equally as unusually as it began — without a coda, a passage that brings a piece to an end.

The melodies of the Andante con moto are not distinctive, but the chromatic harmonies are more interesting. The music has a dreamlike quality, and the frequent use of dissonant suspensions and passing notes are all the more effective for having been foreshadowed in the first four bars of the quartet.

The opening of the Menuetto provides the first forceful rhythmic impulse of the piece — a clear nod to Haydn’s humour and spirit. Jokes out of stuttering motions are present, as are passages that get stuck and go around in circles before finding their way out again. By contrast, the trio section is pure Mozart. The smoother, rather melancholy sound brings back the work’s more sombre character.

The Allegro vivace completely changes the quartet’s mood to one of cheerfulness. The opening theme approaches on tiptoe so the listener is unpre­pared for the explosion of violin brilliance that follows. The attractive tunes, unexpected silences and wit show Haydn’s influence. The main theme appears throughout, and is adorned with a whistling melody in the first violin on its final return. The music dwindles to a pinpoint before clobbering the audience with four final, triumphal chords.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Op. 18 No. 6 in B flat major makes up the second part of the programme. Beethoven was influenced greatly by “the father of the string quartet”, Haydn, as well as by Mozart, for his first cycle of six string quartets. Almost 30 years old and losing his hearing this work opens full of joy and humour but travels to more daring ground in the last movement. Here it explores stark dualities and juxtapositions within one whole, an important element in his works to follow.

Full of Haydn-esque vivacity and humour, the Allegro con brio opens with a conversation between first violin and cello, kept briskly apace by the middle voices. Everyone comes together for a gentler second theme, while the development begins with small interjections and exchanges of ascending scales with constantly running eight notes. This evolves into a lyrical dialogue between the upper and lower voices before a surprise return to the opening for the recapitulation.

This movement opens with a simple melody in the first violin. Together with a mysterious and darker middle section, the melody is exchanged throughout the players with increasingly intricate and delicate ornamentations. Despite the decorations, the simplicity of the main melody leaves the listener unprepared for the following scherzo. The complex syncopations make it hard for musicians to find the beat — a challenge for the players and listeners alike.

The last movement’s unusual title derives from melas- ‘black’ and khole- ‘bile’, a humour believed to cause melancholia or depression. The composer made an additional instruction to treat this piece with the utmost delicacy. The harmonically radical, nearly random sounding adagio (slow time) ultimately has a long emotional trajectory, before abruptly moving on to the charming allegretto quasi allegro (fairly brisk but in the manner of slow time). The adagio returns in the midst of the dance in increasingly shorter and closer bursts, until the dance ultimately triumphs in a prestissimo (as fast a tempo as possible) ending.

The Lazarus String Quartet performs at Tairawhiti Museum on Wednesday at 5.30pm. Adults $5 at the door, children and students with ID free.

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