Cypress Quartet to Perform NY Premiere of Tsontakis' STRING QUARTET No. 6 at SubCulture, 4/1
The Cypress String Quartet will give the New York premiere of Grawemeyer Award-winning composer George Tsontakis' String Quartet No. 6 on Tuesday, April 1 at 7:30pm as part of the new series "92Y Concerts at SubCulture," a co-presentation of 92Y and newly opened club SubCulture (downstairs at 45 Bleecker Street). The concert, which is the group's 92Y debut and their only NYC appearance of the season, also includes selections from Dvorák's set of twelve love songs for string quartet, Cypresses, from which the Quartet takes its name, as well as Schubert's seminal String Quartet No. 15 in G Major. The Cypress Quartet's recording of Dvorák's Cypresses was released as part of the quartet's debut album on AVIE in February 2013 (review copies available on request).
Tsontakis' new work was commissioned this year by the Cypress Quartet through its 15th annual Call & Response program, and will be premiered by the group on March 14, 2014 in San Francisco. Through Call & Response, the Cypress Quartet commissions and premieres new string quartets from both emerging and celebrated composers, asking them to write in response to established chamber repertoire. Call & Response creates a dynamic dialogue between the past and present, between performers and composers, and among audiences of all ages. Tsontakis' String Quartet No. 6 is written in response to Schubert's String Quartet No. 15 in G Major plus two masterpieces by Webern - his ultra-romantic Langsamersatz and the contrasting Five Movements for String Quartet.
The Cypress Quartet's annual Call & Response concert has earned a strong West Coast following; the major concert is preceded by performances throughout the Bay Area in community centers, unorthodox spaces, and schools. Since its inception in 2000, Call & Response has reached more than 25,000 Bay Area residents. Call & Response 2014 is supported in part by a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.
This is the second time George Tsontakis has been commissioned by the Cypress Quartet through the ensemble's Call & Response program. Tsontakis wrote his String Quartet No. 5 for the group in 2005, in response to Beethoven's Late Quartets. It was the first quartet Tsontakis had composed in 20 years, and is written in memory of composer George Rochberg, who died in 2005.
Of his String Quartet No. 6, Tsontakis says, "Even though my sixth quartet was composed seven years after my fifth, can I help but make a degree of my response a reaction to the call of my own fifth quartet? My sixth mirrors my fifth in many ways, but at the same time progresses from it. Most notably, the sixth has truly fast music. In the second part of the sixth, "Blaze," the gently flowing sixteenth-note patterns of a major second of the fifth quartet now become the driving force of the tautly-wound texture - a relentless scherzo of sorts but always liquid and flowing, as in the treatment in the fifth."
To date, the Cypress Quartet has commissioned and premiered over 30 pieces, four of which were chosen for Chamber Music America's list of "101 Great American Ensemble Works." In addition to Tsontakis, commissioned composers include Philippe Hersant, Benjamin Lees, Kevin Puts, and Jennifer Higdon.
About the Cypress String Quartet: Known for its elegant performances, the Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) has been praised by Gramophone for its "artistry of uncommon insight and cohesion," and its sound has been called "beautifully proportioned and powerful" by The Washington Post. The Cypress Quartet was formed in San Francisco in 1996, and during its initial rehearsals the group created a signature sound through intense readings of J.S. Bach's Chorales. Built up from the bottom register of the quartet and layered like a pyramid, the resulting sound is clear and transparent, allowing the texture of the music to be discerned immediately.