The Alexander String Quartet and lecturer Robert Greenberg — who have been regulars at the Mondavi Center since the performing arts complex was dedicated in 2002 — will mark their 10th anniversary at the venue with a concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14.
The concert will feature two works that are extremely diverse in musical terms, but united to a degree by a common theme: Franz Schubert’s popular and oft-performed String Quartet No. 14 (“Death and the Maiden”), dating from 1824, a time when Schubert was in poor health and realized that he was dying, and contemporary composer George Crumb’s blistering “Black Angels,” a work for electric string quartet and percussion dating from 1970 that was, in part, written in response to the war in Vietnam.
Crumb included several musical references to Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” in “Black Angels.”
“The presentation of these two works on the same program is intended as an intriguing juxtaposition between the classical and the contemporary,” according to the Mondavi Center. “While Schubert’s work is considered to be a pillar of the chamber music canon, Crumb aims to reinvent the art form altogether. Both are technically demanding work — the program looks back at established musical traditions while looking forward to explore unconventional musical landscapes.”
During the past decade at Mondavi, the Alexander String Quartet has performed the complete string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich (a three-year cycle of concerts), the complete string quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven (also a three-year-cycle) and shorter series that featured chamber works by Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonín Dvorák and Franz Schubert. Next season, they will present the string quartets of Béka Bartók.
Lecturer Greenberg, whose remarks precede the Alexander String Quartet’s performances at Mondavi, draws on his background as a music historian, composer and author of popular books and lectures available on DVD concerning classical music.
Sunday’s concert is a special add-on event, not part of this season’s Schubert series by the Alexander String Quartet, and there will be a single performance at 2 p.m. Tickets are in short supply, but a few seats are still available, at $49 general, $24.50 for students. Visit www.mondaviarts.org or call 530-754-2787.