2nd Concert - Beyond the world

Wed 30.8

Mozart's Piano Quartet in G minor, a work with all the drama and theatricality one would expect of the composer, is not only the first quartet written for this combination of instruments, it is also one of the most popular. Those same virtues—albeit expressed in an entirely different way—are there to enjoy in the Second Violin Sonata by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, an early 20th-century masterpiece that provocatively straddles the aesthetic boundaries between romanticism and modernism. The concert ends with Alfred Schnittke's Quintet, which the composer wrote after the death of his mother. A genuinely heart-breaking and chilling work, it consists of a painful but utterly thrilling musical journey from a horror that wears the mask of innocence into the uppermost realms of the metaphysical.

CARL NIELSEN (1865 — 1931) - Sonata for violin and piano no.2, opus 35

George Demertzis - Violin
Vassilis Varvaresos - Piano

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756—1791) - Piano Quartet no.1 in G minor, Κ.478

Noe Inui - Violin
David Bogorad - Viola
Timotheos Gavriilidis-Petrin - Cello
Vassilis Varvaresos - Piano

Alfred Schnittke (1934—1998) - Piano quintet

Josef Špaček - Violin
Iason Keramidis - Violin
David Bogorad - Viola
Angelos Liakakis - Cello
Vassilis Varvaresos - Piano



Minoa Chamber Music Festival - CARL NIELSEN (1865 — 1931) -

CARL NIELSEN (1865 — 1931)

opus 35

On 20 May 1920, after the performance of his Second Sonata for violin and piano at the Willem Mengelberg International Festival in Amsterdam, Carl Neilson wrote to his wife: "My sonata is the best piece that has been played at the Festival so far, which I can say without conceit, but because it is so: I faced myself in a spirit of sober criticism and arrived at that result. You would not believe the fuss the top (musicians) from every country make of me as they throng around me with requests to be the first to perform my next work. It's strange that the things one dreamt of as a young man, namely fame and understanding, should be met with something like indifference when they come about." Nielsen's Sonata No.2 was written in 1912 for a concert that had been scheduled to take place the following year. According to the composer's diary, he began writing it before the summer of 1912. The pianist engaged to play the piece at the concert in question, Henrik Knudsen, followed the composition process closely; according to the composer's correspondence, he had the draft of the work at his disposal at some junctures and helped the composer considerably. The work was completed in September 1912. Although recent developments had advanced music significantly at that time, the Second Sonata was still considered too modern by contemporary critics. Like Nielsen's first sonata, it is written in three movements. The first movement begins gently and is almost pastoral in its tranquility. However, the calm quickly gives way to a powerful and decisive section, which is followed in turn by a quieter and far more lyrical section which serves to underline the main motif which runs through this movement. The second movement opens with a series of ringing notes that quickly morph into a sad theme. The middle section is an extension, on a larger scale, of the explosive power that manifested itself in the movement's opening bars. Finally, the third movement's flowing main theme is interrupted by a single triumphant episode in its middle section. All in all, the Second Violin Sonata is a charming and important modernist work that deserves to be heard and is sure to arrest the attention of every audience that hears it in the concert hall. Manolis Lorentzos


I. Allegro con tiepidézza
II. Molto adagio
III. Allegro piacévole

Minoa Chamber Music Festival - WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756—1791) -


In an era (the late 18th and early 19th century) when there were no recordings and public concerts were few and far between, there were very limited opportunities to listen to music. This made private gatherings at which relatives or friends played chamber music together as amateurs singularly welcome as occasions for enjoying music. In this context, most of the chamber music by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert was actually aimed primarily at amateur performers. In 1785, the important Viennese publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister commissioned Mozart to compose three works for piano, violin, viola and cello—a combination of instruments which was, unlike the standard piano trio, somewhat unusual at the time. Mozart responded by writing his G minor Quartet, the first major work for this combination in the repertoire, in October that year. However, its publication shortly afterwards proved to be less of a commercial success than expected, due to the complexity of the writing and the virtuosic demands the score placed on all four instrumentalists. Hoffmeister released Mozart from the obligation to complete the commission, but the composer would go on to write the E flat major Quartet, which was published by Hoffmeister's 'rival', Artaria. Throughout Mozart's oeuvre, the key of G minor is associated with maximum drama and passion. These elements are evident in the Quartet's first movement, beginning with the robust opening gesture by all the instruments in unison. From there on, the work follows classical sonata form, though the musical content is symphonic in its breadth and scale, with rich writing for both piano and strings (indeed, even for the viola, an instrument of which Mozart was especially fond). The slow middle movement opens with the main theme, which could easily have graced one of Mozart's operatic arias, in the piano. The theme is then subject to extensive development, becoming markedly polyphonic in places but maintaining an aristocratic elegance throughout. The finale is an energetic rondo in G major, based on a charming main theme featuring a characteristically Mozartean syncopation. Piano and strings engage in an ongoing game of 'catch me if you can' in which the interplay verges on the competitive; despite momentary dramatic modulations into minor keys (G and E flat) brilliance and optimism manage to retain the upper hand through to the end. Titos Gouvelis


I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Rondo (Allegro)

Minoa Chamber Music Festival - Alfred Schnittke (1934—1998) -

Alfred Schnittke (1934—1998)

Although he went through many phases in his career, Schnittke was perhaps best-known for the eclectic approach in which he created stylistic conflicts and mixed types of music from different genres and periods. However, his approach in the quintet is quite restrained. Very little can break into the obsessive, discordant introversion that hangs over all five movements. In its overall structure, the quintet traces a path from dark, almost impersonal despair to an ambivalent recollection of life and, perhaps, of faint hope. Alfred Schnittke's piano quintet was composed between 1972 and 1976. It was later arranged for symphony orchestra at the request of the famous Russian conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and entitled In Memoriam... The quintet has many stylistic similarities with Shostakovich's later works, and especially his Viola Sonata and 15th String Quartet: pieces overshadowed by the dark mood of a composer who senses death around the corner. However, Schnittke's quintet was brought into being by a death that had already occurred: that of the composer's mother. The work's five movements contain very little "fast" music, and a heavy-hearted atmosphere prevails throughout. In the second movement, the music becomes more showy, with a distorted waltz crashing into the quiet melodic line, simply to disperse its calm energy. Another dramatic episode is provided by the theme of the passacaglia, which recurs obsessively in the finale. Is this an echo of a folk song, some kind of mechanical music, or a religious work? (The orchestrated version of the quintet suggests the latter by assigning the theme to the church organ). Schnittke seems to have discerned the work's dark semantic core in this movement. He even said that it is "based upon situations of genuine grief, about which I wish to say nothing because they are of a highly personal nature and can only be devalued by words". The overall impression made by the quintet is of bleak but quiet despair. This mood would become increasingly prevalent in the composer's work, culminating in his final works, in the 1990s. Manolis Lorentzos


I. Moderato –
II. Tempo di Valse –
III. Andante –
IV. Lento –
V. Moderato pastorale