The ChamberMusicBox QUINTET

The ChamberMusicBox QUINTET  (London)

Shostakovich, Faure 

Saturday 25 May 2024, 7.30pm, St. Botolph’s. Concert dedicated to Roy Abrams (1929 – 2019)

Shostakovich Op. 57 Piano Quintet,
Faure Op.89 Piano Quintet.

The Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 by Dmitri Shostakovich is considered to be one of the best chamber-music masterpieces of the 20th century. Shostakovich wrote the quintet in the summer of 1940, and it was an immediate success. As one observer recalled, it “was discussed in trams, …people tried to sing in the streets the second defiant theme of the finale.” This quintet sounds like the song before the storm, with a “show must go on” feel. The latter strain of the finale is derived from a tune traditionally played at the entrance of the clowns in the Russian circus…

Shostakovich with the famous Soviet theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold. In 1939, Meyerhold was arrested for “decadent Western formalism in art”, brutally tortured and executed.

For Shostakovich, life as an artist in Soviet Russia was harrowing. He found himself praised one day, condemned the next, publicly humiliated and nearly arrested. His success reached its peak in 1934 with the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mzensk District, which became a sensation in Leningrad, Moscow and abroad. In 1936 Stalin attended a performance of  Lady Macbeth of the Mzensk District at the Bolshoi Theatre. Two days later an article in Pravda denounced the opera for pandering to the decadent tastes of the bourgeois West and warned, “This is a game…that may end very badly.” Shostakovich was cast down overnight to the abyss as pernicious purveyor of cultural depravity. Shaken, Shostakovich withdrew his Fourth Symphony from its scheduled premiere and began the work that would redeem him: the Fifth Symphony of 1937. Three years later, as a further sign of renewed official approval, his Piano Quintet received a “category one” award, the highest level of Stalin Prize. The prize carried the sum of 100,000 rubles, an enormous sum for a chamber work. 

The quintet was a deliberate effort by Shostakovich to revive the traditional forms of the 17th and 18th centuries. The movements carry captions like “Prelude,” “Fugue,” and “Intermezzo”, with  some references to Bach, Beethoven and Haydn. Every note is clean and poised, the music moving seamlessly between the apparently light-hearted and the intensely moving. The finale is strikingly simple and powerfully memorable.

The ChamberMusicBox in Trunch:

Yuri Kalnits | violin
Joana Valentinaviciute | violin
Stanislas Popov | viola
Julia Morneweg | cello
Ilya Kondratiev | piano

The Piano Quintet Op.89 in D minor by Gabriel Fauré is one of his finest, but probably not so very well known chamber work. This romantic and slightly melancholic quintet is dedicated to the violinist Eugène Ysaye, a friend of Fauré with whom he gave concerts in 1888 and 1889. A Belgian virtuoso violinist, Ysaÿe was touring a lot, including all of Europe, the United States and Russia, he was regarded as “The Tsar of the Violin”.

The quintet was not completed until 1905. The first performance was in Brussels on 23 March 1906 by the Ysaÿe Quartet with the composer himself at the piano. The opening movement of the quintet is seen by Fauré scholars as among the composer’s finest compositions: “perhaps the most beautiful in the whole of his chamber music”.

The ChamberMusicBox:
“A perfect afternoon of music!”  “Amazing!”
These are just some of the audience reactions to the performances of this outstanding group of international artists.

Their journey started in 2016, when violinist Yuri Kalnits and cellist Julia Morneweg, both at that point already well-known on the chamber music circuit, created the new concept of a chamber music company.  After the first ChamberMusicBox concert at the historic Burgh House in Hampstead, London, the artist roster grew quickly. In the first four seasons, more than 55 ChamberMusicBox artists from over 20 nations performed programmes that were as diverse as they were unique,  from duos to nonets!  

Since 2022 ChamberMusicBox continues to perform concerts across London and the rest of the UK, both in their own series as well as by invitation for some of the country’s leading chamber music promoters. Recent appearances include the 2023 Swaledale Festival, a tour of South West England for Concerts in the West, a recital at the London School of Economics as well their international debut in the prestigious Pharos Arts Foundation Series in Nicosia, Cyprus.

The concert took  place in  St. Botolph’s Church in Trunch. With a licensed bar.
 Tickets: £15 – adult, £7 – children.

Proceeds are donated to Trunch and Swafield Church restoration projects.