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Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915)
String Quintet for Two Cellos, Opus 14

Paul Rosenthal, Violin
Ilya Teplyakov, Violin
Aleksey Koptev, Viola
Ik-Hwan Bae, Violin
Leonid Shukayev, Cello
Peter Rejto, Cello

Handsome enough to win the infatuation of Tolstoy's wife but so disciplined he affected not to notice, Sergei Taneyev was a brilliant pianist who composed when his Moscow Conservatory duties permitted. A lone figure in late 19th-century Russian composition circles, Taneyev openly disapproved of his contemporary nationalist composers. He also claimed to dislike the music of Brahms, to whom he was often compared, and frequently criticized the works of his teacher Tchaikovsky, although his works often reflect Tchaikovsky's lyricism. One of the greatest theorists of his time, Taneyev sought to master counterpoint through persistent exercises. Before beginning a composition, he experimented painstakingly with selected themes to determine their capabilities for contrapuntal manipulation. The resulting compositions reveal elegance and superb polish, if not a high degree of inspiration. The G Major String Quintet (1901, revised 1903) opens with large-scale sonata movement. Its four themes constantly interact in ingenious combinations, demonstrating Taneyev's prodigious contrapuntal skills. The sonorous scherzo movement develops two vivacious themes. The finale, a set of variations on a simple, graceful theme, culminates in a contrapuntal tour de force at the ninth variation-a triple fugue that incorporates themes from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Sadko.

 

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
String Quartet in A minor, Opus 35, for Two Cellos


Ik-Hwan Bae, Violin
Paul Coletti, Viola
Michal Kanka, Cello
Peter Rejto, Cello


Raised in a musical family, Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Anton Arensky studied composition with Rimsky-Korsakoff at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Immediately after graduation, Arensky was appointed Professor of Harmony at the Moscow Conservatory, where his notable pupils included Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Gliere. In Moscow Arensky met Tchaikovsky, who became his friend and mentor. Arensky returned to St. Petersburg in 1895 to become director of the Imperial Chapel. He retired six years later with a generous pension and planned to devote his time to concertizing and composition. Unfortunately, Arensky had struggled with alcoholism and a gambling addiction his entire life. After leaving the Chapel, his habits become more dissolute, and he died of tuberculosis at age 45. Disgusted by the waste of formidable gifts, Rimsky-Korsakoff predicted that Arensky would soon be forgotten. One of imperial Russia's more eclectic composers, Arensky was influenced by Europe's leading romantic composers, particularly Chopin and Mendelssohn. Arensky's works all reveal singing melodic lines and compositional fluency, as well as an affinity for unusual rhythmic patterns. A keen sense of instrumental color pervades his work. Arensky wrote his Opus 35 quartet in 1894, soon after the death of Tchaikovsky. The work was intended to be a memorial to his friend and mentor, and the use of a second cello instead of the customary second violin in the quartet contributes strongly to the elegiac quality. The first movement opens with a muted psalm theme taken from ancient Russian church music. In its center section the mode changes to A Major; the psalm theme, again in the minor mode, returns to close the movement. The second movement develops seven variations on a children's song by Tchaikovsky, "When Jesus Christ was still a child." A muted coda recalling the ancient Russian chant concludes the movement. After an introductory Andante sostenuto section, the finale fugally develops the patriotic Russian hymn "Slava Bogu no nebe Slava," which also appears in the Allegretto movement of Beethoven's "Russian" Quartet Opus 59 No. 2.


Festival Musicians

Ik-Hwan Bae, Violin, was born in Seoul and made his professional debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of 12. After studying with Ivan Galamian at The Juilliard School, he won major honors and prizes, notably a Gold Medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and a Solo Recitalist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His performing career includes recitals, ensembles, Master Classes, and chamber music festivals internationally. As Artistic Director of Bargemusic Ltd. in New York City until 1995, he oversaw the recording of the complete Brandenburg Concertos recorded for Koch. Mr. Bae has taught at the University of Connecticut, the Peabody Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and is currently Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Paul Coletti, Viola, is currently Professor of Chamber Music and Viola at UCLA. Prior to this, he held positions at the University of Washington and the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins. He has given numerous Master Classes worldwide. A prolific international performer and recording artist, Mr. Coletti spent 10 years with the Menuhin Festival Piano Quartet and Typhoon, a group that also featured some of his compositions. Among his many awards are a Grammy Award nomination and "Best of the Year" from BBC Music Magazine.

Peter Rejto, Cello, has appeared throughout the US and abroad in hundreds of performances as soloist and with the Los Angeles Piano Quartet of which he is a founding member. Mr. Rejto has appeared at the summer festivals of Aspen, La Jolla, Round Top, Carmel Bach, Marlboro, Fairbanks, Sitka, Santa Fe, Grand Canyon, and BRAVO! Colorado. His many honors include winning the Young Concert Artists International competition and the Debut Award of the Young Musicians Foundation, Los Angeles. Currently Professor of Music at the Oberlin Conservatory, Mr. Rejto performs on a Dominicus Montagnana, made in Venice in 1721. He has recorded for Sony Classical, Silva Classics, Summit, Music Masters, and Pickwick.

Paul Rosenthal, Violin, studied with Dorothy DeLay and Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School and with Jascha Heifetz at the University of Southern California. Mr. Rosenthal regularly performs concertos with orchestras from New York to Hong Kong and appears in chamber music festivals in the United States, Europe, and Canada. He records on numerous labels, including RCA, Vox, Vanguard, Arabesque and Biddulph. An Alaska resident, Mr. Rosenthal founded the famous Sitka Summer Music Festival in 1972. He directs the festival's affiliated Autumn Classics and Winter Classics series in Anchorage. His violin is a J. Guarnerius made in Cremona in 1706.

Michal Kanka, Cello, has won top prizes in international competitions, including the Tchaikovsky Cello Competition (Moscow 1982), the Prague Spring Competition (1983), and the ARD International Competition (Munich 1986). He also performs and records as a soloist internationally. He is a member of the Prazak String Quartet, formed in 1972 while its members were students at the Prague Music Conservatory. The quartet has received numerous awards, including First Prize in a competition celebrating the Year of Czech Music (1974), and the Grand Prix at the Evian International String Quartet Competition (1978). The quartet tours worldwide and records exclusively with Praga/Harmonia Mundi.

Ilya Teplyakov, Violin, Aleksey Koptev, Viola, and Leonid Shukayev, Cello are members of the St. Petersburg String Quartet along with Alla Aranovskaya, Violin. They formed the quartet in 1985 after graduating from the Leningrad Conservatory. Soon after, they won first prizes at the All-Soviet-Union String Quartet Competition and the First International Shostakovich Competition for String Quartets. These successes were followed by invitations to tour nationally and abroad, where they became artists-in-residence at the Musicorda Festival and String Program in Massachusetts, which is now a mainstay of their musical endeavors. Extensive touring since has resulted in concerts in prestigious international concert halls, music series, and festivals worldwide, residencies in the US, a Grammy nomination, and Best Record of the Month honors in Stereo Review and Gramophone for their Sony Classical recordings of the complete quartets of Tchaikovsky, Borodin's Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, and Quartets Nos. 3, 5 & 7 of Shostakovich. Recent recordings include the complete Shostakovich cycle for Hyperion, and Prokofiev's Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 for Delos.

 

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