You are cordially invited to an in-store performance by the Lux String Quartet here at Hymie’s Records this Sunday evening at 6pm!
Readers of this blog and visitors to the record shop will quickly recognize how much we enjoy classical music, and it is something we have always wished were more accessible to listeners. Here in the Twin Cities we are blessed with two world-class organizations, but unfortunately tickets to their performances can be prohibitively expensive (we ourselves only have tickets for one evening this season). It also seems like classical music is isolated from other genres, so that we don’t think of it as something one can casually enjoy anymore. Heck, it it used over on the Lake Street train station to deter loitering!
We’re excited to welcome the Lux String Quartet to the shop after seeing a performance at St. Paul’s Underground Music Cafe. They are a very talented group with a wide repertoire, and we are absolutely thrilled when they were amenable to the idea of performing in a new setting.
For Sunday’s performance they’ve chosen a program which will include works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonin Dvorak, Beethoven and contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun. They explained that they are “trying to mix up classical standards with [modern] things.”
Shostakovich is certainly somewhere in between the world of classical standards and modern things. His last two string quartets were debuted in the 1970s. His Quartet no 14 in F sharp Major was the last of his “quartet of quartets,” each of which had been dedicated to a member of the Beethoven Quartet, a prominent Russian group who had debuted nearly all of Shostakovich’s works for the form. This one is dedicated to cellist Sergei Shirinsky. It is, therefore, led by the cello, and is (perhaps in deference to Shirinsky, a friend of the composer for nearly fifty years) the lightest and most welcoming of Shostakovich’s late quartets.
Here is Shostakovich’s String Quartet no 14 in F-sharp Major, performed by the Taneyev Quartet. This is a 1974 Melodiya recording reissued in the United States by Columbia Records. Melodiya was the state-owned record label in the Soviet Union, which dominated the market there until the Perestroika era (the label has been privately operated since 1989). They have an enormous catalog which includes all varietys of music, but is especially notable for its classical recordings. Fans of Russian records may recall we had a large collection of Melodiya albums in last winter, many of which we would have been unable to identify if it were not for the help of our friend Johnny, from the awesome power pop trio Mystery Date, who kindly translated the titles for us. In that collection were several of Shostakovich’s quartets. Too bad we did not make a recording of one of those while they were here!
We have invited the Lux String Quartet to chose their own program for Sunday evening, so we can’t say if this is the work by Shostakovich they have chosen. It’s just a favorite of ours. We are very excited to hear what they will chose to perform by the other composers, and should mention they added, “There may be some Mendelssohn in there, too.” MPR’s classical station recently posted this recording of violist Benjamin Davis talking about the group’s goals, and a great recording of them performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Quartet no 2.
The Lux String Quartet will perform works by Shostakovich, Dvorak, Beethoven and Tan Dun here at Hymie’s Records on Sunday, October 11th at 6pm.