Enigma Quartet

Friday, 25 October 2019 at 8pm

Marianne Edwards (violin), Kerry Martin (violin), Elizabeth Woolnough (viola), Rowena Macneish ('cello)

Tickets for this concert can be purchased in advance


MOZART - String quartet no 22 in B-flat major,  K 589, Second Prussian

MENDELSSOHN - String quartet no 2 in A minor, Op. 13

SMETANA - String quartet no 1 in E minor, From My Life

About the Artists

Through its concert series, festival appearances and creative collaborations with different performers and composers, the Enigma Quartet has established a reputation for fine musical technique and dynamic performance style.

The quartet has performed in Sydney and around the state at various venues, music festivals and for ABC Classic FM, including the Huntington Estate Festival and the Musica Viva’s Coffee Concerts series. The quartet has premiered new compositions by Lachlan Skipworth, Phillip Jameson, Gerard Brophy and Alice Chance. The Quartet recently worked on a major project with shakuhachi master Riley Lee called ‘Five Elements’, commissioning more than ten new works by Australian composers.

Read more about the artists

Programme Notes

There is great vitality in this programme. It begins with Mozart's Second Prussian quartet, a dazzling work with rich textures and vibrant themes, expressing the joyousness of life. Mendelssohn's  Op. 13 quartet  contrasts the robustnes and  exuberance of human life with the haunting ethereal atmosphere of imaginary worlds. Smetana's quartet From My Life is autographical music that is both moving and uplifting in its representation of the happiness, the darkness and the hopes of life. 


MENDELSSOHN - String quartet no 2 in A minor, Op 13

 Adagio – Allegro vivace / Adagio non lento / Intermezzo: Allegretto con moto – Allegro di molto / Presto – Adagio non lento

Mendelssohn composed his first string quartet in 1827, when he was 18 years old.  He was already an experienced composer of chamber music, having written his Op 18 string quintet, his wonderful octet for strings op 20, and three piano quartets.  He had a few months before produced his opera Die Hochzeit des Camacho, which  unfortunately was not a success. 

Mendelssohn wrote his Op 13 quartet two years after Beethoven published his last quartets, and months after his death. Beethoven's late quartets received a lukewarm reception at best, and many — including Mendelssohn's own father — agreed with composer Louis Spohr that they were an "indecipherable, uncorrected horror".  Mendelssohn, however, was fascinated by them. He studied the scores and, as you will hear, included many phrases from Beethoven's quartets in Op 13.

As a unifying motif, Mendelssohn included in Op 13 a quote from the song "Ist es wahr?" ('Is it true?) Op 9, no 1, which he had composed a few months earlier, for baritone and piano, based on a poem by Johann Gustav Droyson: "Is it true that you are always waiting for me in the arbored walk?"  Mendelssohn includes the title of the song in the score of the quartet, recalling the title Beethoven wrote on the last movement of his Op 135 string quartet: "Muss es sein?" (Must it be?). But, unlike the introspective, existential, quality of Beethoven's quartet, Mendelssohn's work is richly romantic.  Lucy Miller wrote that "...This quartet, relying heavily on compositional techniques of late Beethoven, links Classical form to Romantic expression". 

                                                                                                                             M. C.

Programme notes for other works will be available nearer to the concert date