The Alexander String Quartet — known to many Mondavi Center subcribers by their initials, ASQ — will continue their series of concerts featuring the string quartets of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók on at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre.
On the program will be two of the better-known Bartók quartets, the Third and the Fourth.
The Third Quartet was premiered in 1928 — a decade after the premiere of the Second Quartet (which the Alexander String Quartet performed at Mondavi in January). At roughly 15 minutes in length, the Third is the shortest of Bartók’s six quartets, and (in the opinion of some) perhaps the most complex and concentrated — it has sometimes been described it as a “sonic phantasmagoria.”
The Fourth Quartet followed hot on the heels of its predecessor — Bartok composed his Fourth Quartet in 1928, before he had heard the premiere of his Third Quartet. Longer than the Third, and featuring five movements, the Fourth Quartet is widely regarded as one of the composer’s greatest achievements.
The 2 p.m. performance will feature comments by music historian and composer Robert Greenberg. The 7 p.m. performance will be followed by a brief question-and-answer session with the four members of the Alexander String Quartet.
Copies of the Alexander String Quartet’s most recent album — a three-CD set featuring the complete quartets of Béla Bartók and his contemporary Zoltán Kodály — will be available for sale in the lobby. The Alexander String Quartet has been performing regularly at the Mondavi Center for 11 years, performing the complete string quartets of Beethoven and Shostakovich, as well as series focusing on works by Brahms, Dvorák, Mozart and others.
The 2 p.m. concert is technically sold out, but it is usually possible to get a turned-back ticket at the box office if your arrive early. A limited number of tickets for the 7 p.m. concert are still available. Tickets are $54 general, $24.50 UC Davis students, www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.