Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 9:29 pm | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Gerald Carpenter: CAMA to Welcome Tetzlaff Quartet to Lobero

The string ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday

The Community Arts Music Association is bringing the vibrant Tetzlaff Quartet — with Christian Tetzlaff and Elisabeth Kufferath on violins, Hanna Weinmeister on viola and Tanja Tetzlaff on cello — to the Lobero Theatre at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The ensemble will perform Franz Josef Haydn’s Quartet in G-Minor, Opus 20, No. 3, Felix Mendelssohn’s Quartet in A-Minor, Opus 13 and Arnold Schoenberg’s Quartet No. 1 in D-Minor, Opus 7 (1905).

Probably because of the Schoenberg piece, CAMA has stressed the fact that in this concert, the Tetzlaff will “repeat their Carnegie Hall program” — daring us, as it were, to be so provincial as to reject what Carnegie Hall has embraced. But Santa Barbara has always included a pretty significant percentage of open-minded, adventurous souls among her music lovers, and, anyway it’s not like they are trying to fill The Granada.

Haydn’s Opus 20 Quartets were called the “Sun” quartets, because the first publication of them had a rising sun on the title page. They are not particularly “sunny” in mood, least of all this one, which is — rare for Haydn at this point — in a minor key. The late Karl Geiringer, longtime professor at UCSB, says Haydn was conducting “experiments” in their composition.

“Turning his back on the light charm and merry grace of his earlier works, he began in the 1770s systematically to explore the possibilities of an expressive musical language meant to stir heart and soul rather than gratify the senses.” I like “merry grace,” which continued to be a defining element of Haydn’s music, though I agree that he began to add darker colors to his palate around the time of these quartets.

Mendelssohn made music as the natural world makes wind and wave. Whatever material he started with, he invariably wove it into a sparkling tapestry of silk and gold. As with his brother prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it was mainly over-work that got him in the end. He never turned down a job, and the more music he wrote, the more concerts he gave, the more the world wanted. So Niccolò Machiavelli, of Castruccio Castracani: “But Fortune, enemy to his fame, instead of giving him more time, took the rest of it away.”

The Schoenberg No. 1 is clearly a work of great intellectual distinction, but is it music? I hasten to add that I believe it is music, great music, but I thought I ought to get the question out in the open at the gate. Schoenberg’s music only reveals its beauties on repeated hearings — and that, lamentably, is exactly what it almost never gets.

When I listen to this quartet, I am powerfully reminded of T.S. Eliot’s line “but no longer at ease in the old dispensation.” The composer is still tonal and/or chromatic, but chafing. Because, while in practical terms Schoenberg was indeed the “World’s Heavyweight Champion Musical Revolutionary” (Robert Craft), he saw himself in very different terms — as a conservative, come to rescue music from its descent into chaos. And while Gustav Mahler was his friend and patron — and hero — his most admired master was that other arch-conservative, Johannes Brahms.

In one main aspect, Schoenberg’s unpopularity is the complement to Jean Sibelius’ popularity: His harmonic restructurings were introduced in works of strict classical formats, composed according to strict classical rules, while Sibelius’ lush romantic harmonies and gorgeous tunes dissolved the forms they didn’t ignore. But in 1905 — that year of vortex — Schoenberg was still working within (however barely) the parameters of conventional harmonies, and Quartet No. 1 is fascinating, compelling, often lovely and never offensive.

For tickets to see the Tetzlaff Quartet, call or drop by the Lobero Theatre Box Office at 805.963.0761 or 33 E. Canon Perdido St. in Santa Barbara. Click here to order online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >