The versatility and resonance of the string quartet will be on full display at “Winter Strings,” a special concert organized by the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival on Feb. 1.
The concert features three strikingly distinct examples of string quartet repertoire, including an exuberant quartet by Felix Mendelssohn written at the height of his musical maturity. Mendelssohn’s quartet has sections reminiscent of the intricate melodic structure of Baroque music and of the powerful tensions and resolutions of classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven.
The program highlights a dramatically moving work by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich based in part on the composer’s reactions to the bombardment of Dresden in World War II. The quartet includes a recurring expressive motif, driving rhythmic sections, and a haunting waltz.
The third piece on the program is an innovative arrangement of a 400-year-old Danish wedding song by the Danish String Quartet, an ensemble committed to creating unique settings of Scandinavian folk tunes. Their arrangement of “Ye Honest Bridal Couple” features a range of moods and instrumental effects, all within a contemporary vibe.
Festival Artistic Director Kevin Krentz has assembled a consummate group of musicians, featuring Helen Kim and Rachel Lee Priday on violin, Christine Grossman on viola, and Krentz on cello.
Since her orchestral debut with the Calgary Philharmonic at the age of 6, Kim has performed around the United States and garnered more than 100 national and international awards. She was a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for six years and associate principal second violin with the San Francisco Symphony. This year, Kim was appointed associate concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony.
Priday is an accomplished soloist who’s performed with major orchestras around the world, including the Chicago, Houston, Seattle and National Symphony orchestras; the Boston Pops; and the Staatskapelle Berlin. Priday has been praised for her “irresistible panache” and “dazzling dexterity.” She plays a violin made in Naples in 1760 that she’s dubbed “Alejandro.”
Grossman has held principal and assistant principal chairs with symphony orchestras around the country, most recently the Kansas City Symphony. She is an avid chamber musician who enjoys everything from contemporary collaborations to bluegrass to folk-rock.
Krentz has directed the chamber music festival for the past decade and regularly performs with guest artists at the Methow summer festival and with an award-winning trio. He is a devoted teacher and an inventor of devices that enhance the tone of string instruments.
Audience members will get a chance to showcase their own artistry in a poetry contest during intermission. The best poems will be read before the second half of “Winter Strings,” with prizes awarded for audience favorites.
“Winter Strings” is Saturday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp. Tickets are $30 and available through the festival’s website at methowmusicfestival.org. Reserved seats are sold out.