From Dover Beach to Wenlock Edge

with Baritone Harry Baechtel and Pianist Michael Seregow

This program focuses on English pastoral settings and chamber music from the World War I era by British composers Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan-Williams, and the American composer Samuel Barber.  The program centers around Barber’s cycle Dover Beach, a setting of a poem by Matthew Arnold depicting the “grating roar” of the waves, Vaughan-Williams’s On Wenlock Edge, a setting from parts of A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, and Elgar’s Piano Quintet in A minor, Op. 84, written at a country cottage in 1918, but said to be a processing of the horrors of “The Great War.”  The program will also feature Barber’s famous Adagio from his string quartet, and short songs from the era.

Quartet Metamorphosis Part II: 250 years of French String Quartets


Quartet Metamorphosis: Biber-Beethoven 

San Francisco’s gut-string era Sylvestris Quartet will perform a program that explores the cyclical transformation and development of the string quartet. The program centers around two boundary-pushing characters, separated by nearly 150 years: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Ludwig van Beethoven. We think you’ll enjoy hearing this unusual pairing as well as works by Scarlatti, Boccherini, Haydn, and Mozart­­­­­—framed with lively insight!

The Good Song: Gabriel Fauré in the 1890s

with Baritone Harry Baechtel and Pianist Michael Seregow

Gabriel Fauré began working on his epic D minor Piano Quintet (Op. 89) in 1887, but set it aside in the early 1890s to write his unique and inspired song cycles, La Bonne Chanson and Cinq Melodies de Venise, both of which feature poetry by the symbolist poet Paul Verlaine.  Sylvestris Quartet, baritone Harry Baechtel, and pianist Michael Seregow join forces to present these three remarkable and sublime works.  La Bonne Chanson is uniquely scored for voice, piano, and string quartet.  The composer finally finished his piano quintet in 1906, nearly twenty years after beginning working on it!

Mozart, Haydn, and Pleyel String Quartets for the (Sometimes) Good Patron of Prussia
W. A. Mozart String Quartet in F Major, K.590 “Prussian No. 3” (1790)

Joseph Haydn String Quartet in D Major, Op.. 50, No. 6 “The Frog” (1787)

Ignaz Pleyel String Quartet in G Minor, B.339 (1786)

Sylvestris Quartet plays quartets written for King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, the cello-playing patron of the 1780s.  Mozart’s very last quartet, K.590 was initially inspired by the King, who later lost interest in the works and failed to make good on his commission.  Mozart was “forced to give away [his] quartets for a ridiculous sum of money” to a publisher.  Nonetheless, these “Prussian” quartets, along with the contemporary and legendary Requiem inspired Haydn to call Mozart “immortal.”  Hear Mozart’s last quartet on gut strings, as lively as the day it was premiered in Mozart’s living room in Vienna in 1790.

This program was performed at First Presbyterian Church San Anselmo in conjunction with Marin Baroque on September 16th, 2016 at 8pm, and at Church of the Advent in San Francisco on September 18th, 2016 at 4pm.

Papa and the Young Virtuoso: string quartets from the dawn of a new century

Joseph Haydn, Op. 77, no. 2 “Lobkowicz” (1799)

Louis Spohr, String Quartet no. 5, Op. 15, no. 2 (1809)

Sylvestris Quartet plays Joseph Haydn’s last complete string quartet, Opus 77, no. 2, written at age sixty-seven in the year 1799, and a rarely heard, lively, and inventive work by the twenty-four year old virtuoso violinist Louis Spohr, his Opus 15, no. 2 from 1809. This “scene” reveals two works, written in different centuries, but within the span of 10 years, and shows the father of the string quartet witnessing the dawning of a new era, alongside a daring, young composer, whose personal style owes as much to contemporary influence as it does to Haydn’s refined model.

This program was performed at the Berkeley Early Music Festival Fringe on June 9th, 2016, and at a house concert in Larkspur, California on June 2nd, 2016.