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Opening Concert

Although little music has been written for string sextet no fewer than two compositions will sound during the Opening Concert which prove how rich this combination of six strings is. It offers guest programmer Amihai Grosz a chance to meet all his fellow strings and the New Generation Artists who will be heard more often in the coming days. Janine Jansen closes the evening with a unique work by Chausson for piano, violin and string quartet.

Johannes Brahms was one of the first composers to have two wrote string sextets. He did so even before he had ventured to the more traditional forms of string quartet and string quintet. Both sextets sound much sunnier than his later, melancholic ones chamber music works. Where Brahms is still uninhibited in his first sextet is in love with the soprano Agathe von Siebold, he is in his second sextet just relieved that he finally got this failed love has processed. Just after he had completed the Second String Sextet he wrote to a friend: “I finally freed myself from this my last love.” And with that, the composer referred to it musical monogram in the second lyrical theme of the first part, in which he has incorporated the first name Agathe: here are the nuts AGAHE (The letter H is the German name for the musical note B). After the motif first sounds three times in a row in the first violin and the first viola part, the other voices take it motive over, first with the same notes, then also on others pitches. There is a huge discharge, as if Brahms wanted let it be known that he was relieved that he was finally over his crush had gone. The second part is actually up to the mark for a Scherzo sad side, until the playful Trio begins. In the third part with variations, Brahms sounds remarkably mature. The music abounds original ideas and the harmonies are well thought out. In the latter part, the composer artfully conjures up two contrasting themes that alternate or intersect each other.

At the end of Brahms’s successful career, he would helping younger colleagues by supporting and promoting their work with his own publisher Simrock. Brahms, for example, demonstrated that the celebrated Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (from him sounds Thursday evening December 29 the Terzetto), but also for the nowadays slightly less known Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky. It is not entirely clear when Zemlinsky Maiblumen blühten überall has written, but at the earliest in 1898, one year after Brahms’s death. Zemlinsky’s special sound idiom not only refers back to Brahms, but also forward to the experimental music by Arnold Schönberg, Zemlinsky’s pupil and later also his brother-in-law (because Schönberg married his sister). It was probably no coincidence that both composers were inspired by the poems of Richard Dehmel. Schoenberg’s Explained Night (which is also on the program on Thursday evening) contains a complete poem by Dehmel, Zemlinsky used for Maiblumen blühten überall just two stanzas from another poem, possibly with the intention of adding more stanzas later add. He knows the tension, the fear, the sadness and the resignation of the girl who loses her beloved.

The French composer Ernest Chausson is best known thanks to his lyrical and famous Poème for violin and orchestra, regularly performed by Janine Jansen. Tonight she plays with pianist Sunwook Kim and four New Generation Artists (who together the string quartet Opus13) form another special violin solo by Chausson: the Concerto for piano, violin and string quartet in D major. Chausson was one of César’s most gifted pupils Frank in Paris and, like his teacher, a fanatical supporter of promoting the chamber music so neglected in France became. His Concerto is very original, partly thanks to the special instrumentation: he alternates piano solos and duos for violin and piano off with the rich timbres of the quartet, sometimes the piano is silent and sometimes all the instruments sound together as a sextet. Although the ever self-critical Chausson took several years to complete this work completion was great success. He dedicated it to the renowned Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, who during the world premiere in Brussels in 1892 played the solo violin part. Chausson wrote afterwards: “I feel dizzy and happy, as I haven’t felt in ages have felt.”