May 14, 2023
7:00 PM PDT
Benaroya Hall, SEattle
Dvořák’s Piano Quintet
Byron Schenkman joins the “sonically delightful and expressively compelling” Jasper String Quartet in a program of Romantic gems by Antonin Dvorak, Alexander Glazunov, and Florence Beatrice Price.
“The Jasper Quartet is…flawless in ensemble and intonation, expressively assured and beautifully balanced.”
Rachel Henderson Freivogel
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936):
Elegy in G Minor, op. 44, for viola and piano
Florence Price (1887-1953):
String Quartet no. 2 in A Minor
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904):
Quintet in A Major, op. 81
Allegro, ma non tanto
Dumka: Andante con moto
Scherzo (Furiant): Molto vivace – Poco tranquillo
About the Jasper Quartet “sonically delightful and expressively compelling”
— The Strad
Notes on the Program
By Byron Schenkman
Alexander Glazunov, Florence Beatrice Price, and Antonin Dvorak were all in one way or another universalists whose music celebrated people above nations. This was in contrast to the nationalism which dominated much of 19th-century European music. In the 1890s Dvorak lectured on the need for an American school of classical music based on Black and Indigenous musical traditions, a vision realized exquisitely by Price in the 20th century. Although Dvorak was Czech, his music is not specifically Czech; rather he incorporated folk elements from throughout Eastern Europe as well as North America. Glazunov was also a cosmopolitan musician whose work eschews the overt nationalism of his Russian mentors.
Alexander Glazunov was a student of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who came to view him less as a student and more as a colleague. Despite struggles with alcoholism, Glazunov maintained an impressive international career as both composer and conductor. He was also an important teacher who nurtured the careers of younger musicians including the violinist Nathan Milstein and the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Glazunov’s Elegy in G Minor was composed in 1893 for his friend Franz Hildebrand, a Danish violist who had been employed at the Russian court.
Florence Beatrice Price was a Black mixed-race pianist, organist, and one of the greatest American composers of the 20th century. Born in Arkansas and educated at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Price spent most of her career in Chicago where she was a towering figure of the Chicago Black Renaissance. Her first symphony was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. In 2022 (nearly seventy years after the composer’s death) a Philadelphia Orchestra recording of two of her symphonies won her first Grammy Award. Much of Price’s music incorporates music from the Black American musical vernacular, including spirituals and also dance rhythms such as the juba. Her monumental String Quartet no. 2 in A Minor was first published in 1935.
The Piano Quintet in A Major, op. 81, by Antonin Dvorak is one of the gems of the 19th-century chamber music repertoire. It is actually Dvorak’s second piano quintet although the earlier quintet (also in A Major) is rarely performed today. Like Price, Dvorak incorporates elements of various types of music, including chamber music of earlier composers, folk music of the regions where he lived, church music, and popular music of the day.