RUEHR STRING QUARTET #6 REVIEW

Cypress String Quartet: Triumph of Beauty

“After intermission, it was a Call & Response commission, Elena Ruehr’s 2012 String Quartet No. 6, this time in response to Mozart and, yet again, to Beethoven. The composer herself spoke before the performance, also citing Rochberg as an inspiration. Like a typical 18th- or 19th-century piece, this quartet features four completely different movements. The first is a rather matter-of-fact, marchlike affair, subtitled “The Sea,” which feels like a sailing song. The second movement, in eerie contrast, is sad and fearful, written for Todd Donovan, a friend and associate of both the Cypress Quartet and Ruehr, who was dying of cancer while the piece was being written. Donovan recently passed away.

The third movement takes another sharp turn with sultry rhythms and a dancelike feel. The fourth movement is the strongest of them all, reaching the transcendental heights of the first two pieces on the program. The ending is a thrilling chase of upward gestures, alternating colorful and atonal dissonance with clear, straight-up scales for a rousing finish.”

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