A conversation with Solenne Païdassi
I’m still coming down from the summer– Schoenberg, Shostakovich, “The Jury,” everything and everyone who turned up
Summer 2022 features arguably the most perfect of Mozart’s perfect quartets, the C Major (K.465). Nicknamed the “Dissonance,” it starts out with an unusually jarring beginning - for 1785, that is. Continuing with our annual Shostakovich cycle, we’ll perform his Quartet No. 2 in A Major composed at the height or World War II. Censored and oppressed by Stalin, Shostakovich lived in a constant state of fear to the point of leaving a small packed suitcase by the door so at least he would have a change of clothes and toothbrush to grab when the expected visit came from the KGB. Shostakovich’s uncle, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law were executed by Stalin and, through this living hell, he somehow continued to compose, walking a tightrope between not running afoul of government censors all the while slipping subversive elements into his music that he hoped would be subtle enough to slip by the bureaucrats who attempted to sanitize his expression. He was not always successful; he was eventually denounced as an “enemy of the people” and his music banned.
Becky Anderson is back and will again be performing another Ysaÿe solo sonata, one of the highlights of last summer. We’ll be joined by Maia Cabeza, concertmaster of the Aurora Orchestra (London) and Principal Second of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Kammerakademie Potsdam. Clancy Newman returns with his unusual combination of thoughtful and earnest virtuosity and we have a new artist, the wonderfully expressive and versatile soprano, Elaine Daiber. She’ll need all her skills with the centerpiece of the summer, Schoenberg’s remarkable second string quartet (which features a soprano). This quartet’s premiere was booed and heckled back in 1908 and led the presenter to slap one unruly concertgoer. A transcendent work, it is surprisingly tame listening from the vantage point of 2022. We also have Anton Webern’s lush Langsamer Satz (“slow movement”). Finally, the highlight of the summer is the much-awaited World Premiere celebrating the 90th birthday of our 2022 Poet-in-Residence (and Newburyport legend), Rhina P. Espaillat. Collaborating with Pulitzer-nominated 2022 Composer-in-Residence Jon Deak, and Rhina’s poem “The Jury” will be set to string quartet and soprano.
Other events include the return of out Nachtmusik concert (held in the dark in Brown Chapel), a concert in a private home where every seat will right up close, two concerts in St. Paul’s, and the free Family Concert on Inn Street. We’ll have the usual panel discussion/demonstration, two Hausmusik reading parties, a ton of open rehearsals, an interview with Composer-in-Residence Jon Deak, and a lecture: “Music on the Brink: Schoenberg’s String Quartet No.2 and the Disintegration of Romanticism.”
David Yang, Artistic Director