New Esterházy Quartet members Lisa Weiss, Anthony Martin, William Skeen, and Kati Kyme (photograph by R. Beach, from the NEQ Web site)
Once again the New Esterházy Quartet (NEQ) will open their thirteenth season in September with the first in a series of four concerts. Full details for the first two of those concerts are now available, as well as the thematic titles and composers for the remaining two. The ensemble consists of violinists Lisa Weiss and Kati Kyme (who share leadership responsibilities), violist Anthony Martin, and cellist William Skeen. As in previous seasons, all San Francisco performances will take place in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Saturday afternoons, beginning at 4 p.m. Here is a summary of the information currently available about the plans for the four programs:
September 14: The full title for this program will be A Haydn Bouquet — Four Quartets from Two Decades of Genius. Those two decades are basically the first and last of the ten-year periods that Jospeh Haydn spent as Kapellmeister for the Esterházy family. The program will be organized in such a way that each half presents a string quartet from each of those decades. All of the quartets were published as parts of collections of six quartets. The opening selection will be Hoboken III/25 in E major, the first quartet in the Opus 17 publication of 1771. This will be followed by Hoboken III/65 in C major, the first in the 1790 Opus 64 series of quartets composed for Johann Tost. After the intermission, the chronology will revert back to 1769 with Hoboken III/23 in B-flat major, the fifth of the quartets published in Opus 9. The program will then conclude with the only minor-key quartet in the offering: Hoboken III/47 in F-sharp minor, the fourth of the 1787 Opus 50 collection known as the “Prussian” quartets.
November 23: Bass-baritone Paul Max Tipton will return as guest artist for the performance of another song cycle by Franz Schubert. Last season Tipton sang the D. 911 Winterreise (winter’s journey), which Schubert composed between February and October of 1827 and is his lengthiest cycle. For the thirteenth season Tipton will sing the D. 795 Die schöne Müllerin (the lovely maid of the mill). Like D. 911, D. 795 sets poems by Wilhelm Müller. However, while D. 911 is generally regarded as seriously dark, many have argued that there are sharper ironic edges to the poems selected for D. 795. As was the case last season, bassist Kristin Zoernig will supplement the NEQ resources.
February 22: The title of this program will be After Beethoven. The program will include quartets by both the the Mendelssohn siblings, Felix and his older sister Fanny. The other composer to be represented on the program will be George Onslow.
April 4: The title of the final program of the season will be Quartet Debuts. Presumably, it will consist of the earliest string quartets written by the composers being represented. They will include all three of the “First Viennese School” composers, Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, as well as Luigi Boccherini.
St. Mark’s is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission is $30. Seniors, the disabled, and members of the San Francisco Early Music Society will be admitted for $25; and there is a $10 rate for students with valid identification. A Web page on the NEQ Web site has been set up for all ticket purchases. However, as of this writing, the Web page has not yet been updated for any of the concerts that will be offered during the new season, nor is there information about special rates for subscribers.