Series offers Czech works

Award-winning Pavel Haas Quartet comes to Columbia

Preview

April 07, 2006|By EILEEN SOSKIN | EILEEN SOSKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After they won the 2005 International Borciani String Quartet Competition, 40 performances were scheduled for the Pavel Haas Quartet, including appearances in Brussels, Vienna, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Rome, Milan, Tokyo, Washington, Los Angeles and, of course, Columbia.

Those who attend tomorrow's 8 p.m. concert -- part of the Candlelight Concert series -- will have a chance to hear a young string quartet performing seldom-heard works by two famous, and one not-so-famous, Czech composers.

The Pavel Haas Quartet -- Veronika Jaruskova (violin), Katerina Gemrotova (violin), Pavel Nikl (viola) and Peter Jarusek (violincello) -- is based in Prague, the Czech Republic. The performance tomorrow night features the music of three Czech composers: Bedrich Smetana, Pavel Haas and Leo JanM-acek. The music and the performers are hot, fresh and new.

The Pavel Haas Quartet opens the program with Smetana's String Quartet No. 2, a mature work composed only a few years before the composer's death. The quartet is tuneful and appealing, fresh and new to most listeners. Smetana was born in Bohemia in 1824 and died in Prague in 1884. He was the first well-known Czech nationalist composer, best known for his operas and the symphony poem MM-a Vlast, although his chamber music certainly deserves a wider audience.

Haas, after whom this string quartet is named, was a Czech composer born in 1899. Interned at the Terezin concentration camp for three years during World War II, Haas died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz in 1944. Haas, a student of Janacek, was influenced by Jewish chant, jazz rhythms and Moravian folksongs; his Quartet No. 2, Op. 7, was composed in 1925. This is poignant, attractive music -- probably new to most listeners.

JanM-acek was a Czech composer whose fame and influence on other composers has eclipsed those of most of his compatriots. Born in Moravia in 1854, JanM-acek's operas have become increasingly popular in the past 30 years. His Quartet No. 2, subtitled Intimate Letters, was composed in 1928, shortly before his death. His style is characterized by exciting dissonances supporting and contrasting with touching melodies and sharp rhythms.

Tomorrow's concert will be held on the campus of Howard Community College in ILB-100 on the quad, directly across from Smith Theatre. Ticket information: 410-480-9950.

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