Linden String Quartet to make Chautauqua debut

 

The Linden String Quartet. Submitted photo.

Lauren Hutchison | Staff Writer

Violinist Catherine Cosbey said string quartets can be rediscovered for the rest of one’s life.

“It teaches me more about myself and it helps me dig deeper within,” she said. “I hope that is something that we can pass on to our audience. Apart from being a respite from the outside world, I hope that it can help with some soul-searching.”

Search with the Linden String Quartet at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. The last concert in the Logan Chamber Music series will feature Mozart’s String Quartet No. 16 in E flat major, K. 428/421b, Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major and Antonín Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96.

Formed in 2008 by violinists Cosbey and Sarah McElravy, violist Eric Wong and cellist Felix Umansky, the Linden String Quartet is in residence at the Yale School of Music and is the Stiefel Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

They’ve seen immediate success, winning the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2009, the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition in 2010 and a string of other honors. The group attributes their achivements to their passion for chamber music.

“For me, there’s something really beautiful about joining in a small group, because there’s this balance between the individual voice and the voice as a whole,” McElravy said. “It represents cooperation, friendship, compassion and humanity. It’s a good representation of how people should interact in a musical way.”

Today’s concert is the Linden String Quartet’s Chautauqua debut.

“It’s exciting to play for a group of individuals who have had a lot of experience with chamber music,” McElravy said. “It’s so nice to have that appreciation.”

Today’s program features three very different national sounds: Mozart’s old Vienna, Ravel’s France and the American sound created, in part, by Dvořák’s string quartet.

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 16 is the third of his six string quartets penned in honor of composer Joseph Haydn. Though Haydn and Vienna permeate the piece, it also has a rustic third movement, mimicking the dances of peasants. Wong said this quartet is more risqué, harmonically, than Mozart’s earlier quartets.

The equalization of the voices is similar to Haydn’s style but is more operatic, Wong said. Cosbey said this operatic nature is what sets Mozart’s string quartets apart from the conventions established in Haydn’s quartets.

“You really feel that the four voices are speaking together,” she said. “It’s really a continuous flow through all of us.”

The piece was the first Mozart string quartet the Linden String Quartet learned as an ensemble, and it always has resonated with McElravy. It’s not played as often as some of Mozart’s other Haydn quartets, because there’s something quirky about it, she said.

From old Vienna, the quartet travels to France with Ravel’s string quartet. Wong described the French sound as an Impressionist painting, employing more suggestion and subtlety in line and texture. Ravel’s open tonalities and the use of tremolo and staccato create a unique, foreign sound when compared with other Romantic works.

Cosbey said Ravel changed the direction of the string quartet with this work, especially with its harmonies and voicing.

“He created colors in the string quartet that are just so innovative, and still gorgeous and lush,” she said. “Ravel always has an ebb and flow.”

McElravy said she’s always been enamored with the work and its heartbreaking beauty. She was captivated when she heard it as a child, and the work remains one of her favorites.

The concert closes with Dvořák’s “American” string quartet, written while the composer was vacationing in Spillville, Iowa. He was fascinated with life in the U.S and the music traditions of its people, and he created a unique, American sound in this quartet.

Cosby said the piece covers the whole spectrum of human emotion, from the joy and excitement of a new world to the feeling of homesickness.

“I think it’s kind of funny that we needed an outsider to create the American voice, but really, he made something that we identify as American music,” she said.

McElravy said the piece is folky, fun and exciting. The Linden String Quartet played it in workshops at the Perlman Music Program last summer, where the quartet received coaching from Merry Peckham of the Cavani String Quartet and from Donald Weilerstein, a founding member of the Cleveland String Quartet.

“That experience just left a huge impression on me,” McElravy said. “I felt like we grew so much as a group when we worked with them. The Dvořák will forever have a very special place in my heart because of those two weeks that we spent at the Perlman Music Program.”

After Chautauqua, the Linden String Quartet has a busy fall. The quartet has many more concerts, including their Carnegie Hall debut on Nov. 9.

“We’re excited that we’re in a position now where it looks like we’ll probably be together for some time,” Cosbey said. “We would love to be in a permanent residence of some type, because we’re all passionate about teaching as well as touring.”

Wong said working with young students has been an eye-opening experience.

“You learn so much about your own playing,” he said. “I found that after a week of teaching, my playing has gotten so much better because I’ve had to practice what I preach.”

Free tickets — two per person — for today’s concert will be distributed, first-come, first-served, on the red brick walk in front of the Colonnade at 8:30 a.m. (8 a.m. if rain). The line begins to form around 7:30 a.m. Ticket holders will be admitted to Lenna Hall until 3:50 p.m. After that time, all empty seats become available on a first-come basis. No seats may be saved.

“It’s exciting to play for a group of individuals who have had a lot of experience with chamber music,” McElravy said. “It’s so nice to have that appreciation.”

Today’s program features three very different national sounds: Mozart’s old Vienna, Ravel’s France and the American sound created, in part, by Dvořák’s string quartet.

Mozart’s String Quartet No. 16 is the third of his six string quartets penned in honor of composer Joseph Haydn. Though Haydn and Vienna permeate the piece, it also has a rustic third movement, mimicking the dances of peasants. Wong said this quartet is more risqué, harmonically, than Mozart’s earlier quartets.

The equalization of the voices is similar to Haydn’s style but is more operatic, Wong said. Cosbey said this operatic nature is what sets Mozart’s string quartets apart from the conventions established in Haydn’s quartets.

“You really feel that the four voices are speaking together,” she said. “It’s really a continuous flow through all of us.”

The piece was the first Mozart string quartet the Linden String Quartet learned as an ensemble, and it always has resonated with McElravy. It’s not played as often as some of Mozart’s other Haydn quartets, because there’s something quirky about it, she said.

From old Vienna, the quartet travels to France with Ravel’s string quartet. Wong described the French sound as an Impressionist painting, employing more suggestion and subtlety in line and texture. Ravel’s open tonalities and the use of tremolo and staccato create a unique, foreign sound when compared with other Romantic works.

Cosbey said Ravel changed the direction of the string quartet with this work, especially with its harmonies and voicing.

“He created colors in the string quartet that are just so innovative, and still gorgeous and lush,” she said. “Ravel always has an ebb and flow.”

McElravy said she’s always been enamored with the work and its heartbreaking beauty. She was captivated when she heard it as a child, and the work remains one of her favorites.

The concert closes with Dvořák’s “American” string quartet, written while the composer was vacationing in Spillville, Iowa. He was fascinated with life in the U.S and the music traditions of its people, and he created a unique, American sound in this quartet.

Cosby said the piece covers the whole spectrum of human emotion, from the joy and excitement of a new world to the feeling of homesickness.

“I think it’s kind of funny that we needed an outsider to create the American voice, but really, he made something that we identify as American music,” she said.

McElravy said the piece is folky, fun and exciting. The Linden String Quartet played it in workshops at the Perlman Music Program last summer, where the quartet received coaching from Merry Peckham of the Cavani String Quartet and from Donald Weilerstein, a founding member of the Cleveland String Quartet.

“That experience just left a huge impression on me,” McElravy said. “I felt like we grew so much as a group when we worked with them. The Dvořák will forever have a very special place in my heart because of those two weeks that we spent at the Perlman Music Program.”

After Chautauqua, the Linden String Quartet has a busy fall. The quartet has many more concerts, including their Carnegie Hall debut on Nov. 9.

“We’re excited that we’re in a position now where it looks like we’ll probably be together for some time,” Cosbey said. “We would love to be in a permanent residence of some type, because we’re all passionate about teaching as well as touring.”

Wong said working with young students has been an eye-opening experience.

“You learn so much about your own playing,” he said. “I found that after a week of teaching, my playing has gotten so much better because I’ve had to practice what I preach.”

Free tickets — two per person — for today’s concert will be distributed, first-come, first-served, on the red brick walk in front of the Colonnade at 8:30 a.m. (8 a.m. if rain). The line begins to form around 7:30 a.m. Ticket holders will be admitted to Lenna Hall until 3:50 p.m. After that time, all empty seats become available on a first-come basis. No seats may be saved.