CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 24, 2000
Maia String Quartet and pianist Rene Lecuona will present chamber music
concert April 9
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Maia String Quartet, a resident faculty ensemble
at the University of Iowa School of Music, will be joined by two of their
faculty colleagues, violist Christine Rutledge and pianist Rene Lecuona, for
a concert of chamber music by Mozart, Brahms and Ravel, at 3 p.m. Sunday,
April 9 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
The members of the Maia String Quartet -- Amy Kuhlmann Appold and Timothy
Shiu, violins; Elizabeth Oakes, viola; and Amos Yang, cello -- are visiting
assistant professors at the UI School of Music. The April 9 concert is the
last in a series of three concerts by the Maia Quartet on campus during the
1999-2000 academic year.
With Rutledge, the quartet will play Mozart's String Quintet in E-flat major,
K.614; Lecuona and members of the quartet will perform the Piano Quartet in
C minor, op. 60, of Johannes Brahms; and the Maia Quartet will close the program
with the String Quartet of Maurice Ravel.
The concert will be free and open to the public.
During the 10 years he lived in Vienna, from 1781 until his premature death
in 1791, Mozart wrote many works that are regarded as some of the greatest
achievements of European music. Among the best known are a series of great
operas, several piano concertos written for his own performances, his last
three symphonies, and his uncompleted "Requiem." He also wrote chamber
music that ranks with the greatest works of the Classical era, including a
series of six string quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn, and several works
that went beyond the standard instrumental groups.
Among these are two pairs of string quintets, scored for the unusual combination
of string quartet plus a second viola -- two in 1787, in C major and G minor,
and then two more in the last year of his life, one in D major, and his last
quintet in E-flat major. In "The Mozart Compendium," scholar A.
Hyatt King wrote that "these splendid last quintets can be seen as the
crown of a continuum unique in Mozart's music of any type. . . . However great
the best of the quartets, it is the quintets in which Mozart towers above
all others as a profound innovator in this kind of chamber music."
Another unusual instrumental grouping pioneered by Mozart was the quartet
for piano and strings. In the 19th century this ensemble was superseded by
the more sonorous quintet for piano with string quartet, but Brahms, who was
very conscious of his own Classical heritage, wrote three piano quartets,
a pair of them in G minor and A minor, opp. 25 and 26, in 1861-61, and the
Third Piano Quartet in C minor, op. 60, completed in 1875.
Like many of Brahms' works, the Piano Quartet in C minor went through several
versions and was finally the fruit of long and painstaking effort. The completed
Quartet was in fact a thorough re-composition of a Quartet in C-sharp minor
that he had begun 20 years earlier. Brahms even tried out several intermediate
versions of the quartet, in 1856 and again in 1868. Apparently he was not
satisfied with either of these works, since both have disappeared without
Ravel wrote his String Quartet in 1902-03, during an awkward period in his
career. He had left the Paris Conservatory in 1895, with a commitment to music
as a career but few solid accomplishments. His highly original style of composition
did not fit well with the academic requirements of the Conservatory, but Ravel
eventually found a sympathetic teacher in Gabriel Faure and attended his courses
as an auditor through 1903.
Ravel dedicated his Quartet to Faure, but most musicians believe that the
strongest influence on the work was Debussy, whose String Quartet was composed
a decade earlier, in 1893. Indeed, Ravel's Quartet shares several features
with that of Debussy, including features of harmony, form, and even some thematic
elements. Ravel exceeded Debussy in one area, however, and that is the richness
of instrumental color, achieved with multiple stops -- more than one note
on each instrument -- themes written in octaves, arpeggios, harmonics and
Founded in 1990, the Maia Quartet has established itself nationally with
performances in major concert halls including Alice Tully Hall in New York,
the Kennedy Center Terrace Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Harris Hall at
the Aspen Music Festival. In recent years they have collaborated with other
leading chamber musicians around the world, and they have had summer teaching
engagements at the Interlochen Arts Academy, the Austin Chamber Music Festival,
the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and the Cedar Rapids Symphony
School. Prior to coming to Iowa, they also taught on the faculty of the Peabody
Rutledge joined the UI faculty in 1998. She has appeared as soloist, chamber
musician and orchestral player throughout the United States and abroad. She
performs as a member of the Fontana Chamber Music Festival ensemble. Her performances
and recordings with the Notre Dame String Trio have earned glowing reviews
from The Strad, Fanfare and other music publications. Her solo performances
have included those before her professional peers at the 23rd International
Viola Congress in Bloomington, Ind., and the 24th Congress in Marchneukirchen,
Germany. She has performed the standard viola repertoire, her own transcriptions
of Baroque works, several lesser known works for viola, and new works that
were written specifically for her.
Lecuona maintains an active teaching and performing schedule at the UI School
of Music, including frequent collaborations with her faculty colleagues. Since
joining the faculty in1990 she has appeared in more than 55 on-campus concerts.
She is featured on several CD recordings, including one with double bassist
Diana Gannett of chamber music by Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In a
recent review of the CD in Bass World, Lecuona's performance on the recording
was described as "magnificent." She has given solo and chamber music
recitals throughout the United States, South America and the Caribbean. As
an Artistic Ambassador for the United States, she has given concerts and master
classes in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago. She has also
performed solo recitals and given master classes at many universities in Brazil.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr on
the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/.
The Maia Quartet is on the web at http://www.uiowa.edu/~music/SOMfest5.html.
NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Rene Lecuona is pronounced RAIN-ee leh-QUO-nah.