DR. BRICE ADDISON
Judy Ericksen in Memory of Bill Larson
2022 - 2023
Chamber Music Series
FRIDAY September 16 7pm
SUNDAY September 18 2pm
The Cascade Quartet gets heavy with new music by living rockstars Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and Bryce Dessner of The National
420 Central Avenue
First Congregational Church
2900 9th Ave S
PLUS the classic Nordic grit of Grieg’s String Quartet
in G minor
We are excited to open the 2022-23 Chamber Music Series and our first concert at the Newberry with this visceral and physical work for string quartet. Full of driving rhythms, energetic bow strokes and pulsating ostinati, you can feel airborne with this music, just as the composer describes below:
“Aheym means ‘homeward’ in Yiddish, and this piece is written as musical evocation of the idea of flight and passage. As little boys, my brother and I used to spend hours with my grandmother, asking her about the details of how she came to America. (My father’s family were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia). She could only give us a smattering of details, but they all found their way into our collective imagination, eventually becoming a part of our own cultural identity and connection to the past. In her poem ‘Di rayze aheym,’ the American-Yiddish poet Irena Klepfisz, a professor at Barnard in New York and one of the few child survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, writes: ‘Among strangers is her home. Here right here she must live. Her memories will become monuments.’
Aheym is dedicated to my grandmother, Sarah Dessner.”
(c) Bryce Dessner
Bryce Dessner is a composer / guitarist / curator based in New York City, best known as the guitarist for the rock band The National.
Greenwood provided "a sonic explosion that reinvented what film music could be."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
There Will Be Blood
II. HW/ Hope of New Fields
III. Future Markets
IV. Prospectors Quartet
Taken up in concert performances by orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, BBC Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the
Hong Kong Philharmonic, Jonny Greenwood is showing the world that there is another musical voice in him beside his main gig as lead guitarist of Radiohead.
Greenwood’s score to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 film There Will Be Blood set the mood for a tale about the dark side of unbridled ambition. The movie, inspired by Upton Sinclair’s novels The Jungle and Oil!, invites the viewer to take a deeper look at the early days of the oil industry in the American West. Greed and ego, in tandem with environmental destruction, slowly destroy the main characters and their community. Greenwood portrays these forces with the juxtaposition of simple, lugubrious melodies against feverish and drilling dissonances. In the New Yorker, music critic Alex Ross cited Greenwood’s “unearthly beautiful score” as a revelatory example of personal musical language, contrasting it with the clichéd devices of most films:
“If the smeared string glissandos on the sound track suggest liquid welling up from the underground, the accompanying dissonances communicate a kind of interior, inanimate pain.”
Jonny Greenwood, born 1971 in Oxford, England, studied viola early on and played in youth orchestras. He started picking up other instruments and experimenting with computer programs. He had intended to pursue classical composition studies when Radiohead was signed by EMI.
String Quartet No. 1
in G minor, Op. 27
I. Un poco andante-
Allegro molto ed agitato
“I have recently finished a string quartet which I still haven’t heard,” the composer wrote to a friend in the summer of 1878. “It is in G minor and not planned to be meat for small minds! It aims at breadth, vigor, flight of imagination, and, above all, fullness of tone for the instruments for which it is written.”
When the listener thinks of Edvard Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King might be the first tune that pops into mind, or perhaps the famous Morning Mood melody, used in the Looney Tunes whenever a sleepy character would wake up and blink away their dreams. The sound of Grieg’s music might be one we associate with our childhood, but this string quartet has a heft and muscle very different from the works mentioned above.
The first movement opens with gripping unison, followed by rich pools of string sonority from his employment of double stops in one of the most resonant keys for string quartet, G minor. Chasing melodies, lyrical sweetness, and riffs you could imagine from a heavy metal guitarist, all combine to give the opening movement a grit we imagine of the far North, Grieg’s homeland of Norway.
The cello takes us by the hand in the Romanze with a songful melody in triple meter, giving way to a tempestuousness that only truly subsides as the movement comes to a floating, nostalgic conclusion.
The Intermezzo displays Grieg’s characteristic rustic flair and his penchant for folksiness, including a trio that harkens back to the Hardanger fiddle tunes of his childhood.
After a brief moment of reflection and cyclical return of the first movement’s melody, the finale is off to the races. Grieg instructs the string quartet to play in the style of the Saltarello, a hopping and skipping Italian dance from the 15th century. The work comes to a close in G major, as if all the density of the music has broken free and made space for a flood of joy.
–Program notes by Megan Karls