Three members of the Breckenridge Music Festival orchestra, which performs a repertoire each year from mid-July to late August, reunite today at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon.
Led by Nathan Olson, concertmaster of the BMF orchestra, Meghan Jones and Matthew Carrington return to present a string quartet concert along with cellist Ian Jones, a longtime friend and former classmate of both Olson and Carrington.
This is the second year the four have met in Breckenridge, in winter, for a quartet concert, Olson said. "We live in different parts of the country as members of various orchestras - Meghan in Sarasota, Fla. (Sarasota Orchestra); Matt in New Orleans, La. (Louisiana Philharmonic); Ian in Tucson, Ariz. (Tucson Symphony); and I live in Dallas, Texas (co-concertmaster with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra) - so when we come to Breck, it is an intense period of rehearsal to put these pieces together in time for the concert. Luckily, we also are able to get some skiing in while we're here, which is a big draw for us," he said.
Sunday's program includes Franz Josef Haydn's String Quartet Op. 50 No. 6 in D Major ("The Frog"), Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 9 in E flat Major and Dvorak's String Quartet No. 10 in E flat Major. "I suppose a theme for this program could be 'slightly lesser known works by famous quartet composers,'" Olson joked.
Haydn is a group favorite. "We always like to program some Haydn on our concerts," Olson said. "He is known as 'the father of the string quartet genre,' and despite all those who have come after him and expanded the genre further - such as Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, etc. - he is still one of the great masters at writing for this ensemble. His trademark humor and genius really shine through in his quartets."
Though the Op. 50 quartets are not as well known as Haydn's Op. 20, 33 and 76, Olson said, they are "just as creative and beautiful."
And, though Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 9 is not nearly as well known as his famous No. 8, "it is the first quartet in which the composer uses several new stylistic elements that would be carried on in his last five quartets - for example, clusters and oscillating lines of repeated close note intervals and sudden passages of recitative and solo pizzicato," he said. The quartet is performed in five movements without a break.
Dvorak, most well known for his "American quartet" (Op. 96), in fact wrote 14 string quartets. "His quartet in E flat Major, Op. 51, is quite nationalistic in expression, a personal take on song and dance from his native Czechoslovakia," Olson said. "In the first movement, we can hear a polka. In the second, a dumka. In the finale, another Czech dance."
"It will be an exciting evening filled with emotions ranging from the witty and beautiful in Haydn, to the sarcastic and tragic in Shostakovich, to the lushly romantic and nationalistic Dvorak," he said. "Concertgoers will get to hear quartet music written by some of the true masters of the genre, played by top-notch musicians from around the country."