Program Notes

W.A. MOZART (1756 – 1791)

I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante
III. Menuetto: allegretto
IV. Allegro

Depressed, debt-ridden, and ill, Mozart and his friend Karl Lichnowski met the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm I (a fine amateur cellist) in Potsdam in April 1789. Mozart then played before the king in Berlin a month later and went on to dedicate his last string quartet to him (hence the unusually prominent cello part). Within a year, Mozart was dead. He was 35 years old. I’ve resisted programming Mozart for years; more than most, his music needs to sound effortless, posing a particular challenge with music that is so fiendishly difficult. However, bolstered by NCMF’s first foray into Bartok quartets, I felt it was also time for some Mozart.This is some of the most absurdly beautiful music ever written. We’ve become accustomed to the Romantic notion of an artist’s suffering expressed through his art. If anything, the sheer energy of the last movement could only be interpreted as unabashed delight at being alive.

Program notes by David Yang