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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

With an ode to Haydn, Britten and Elgar, Spokane String Quartet closes its season

Quartet members are, from left, Jeannette Wee-Yang, viola; Mateusz Wolski, violin; Amanda Howard Phillips, violin; and Helen Byrne, cello.  (Courtesy of Hamilton Studio)

The Spokane String Quartet is wrapping up its 2023-24 season with a concert featuring compositions from Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar and Joseph Haydn.

The quartet’s fourth and final performance will open with Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2 and Britten’s 3 Divertimenti for String Quartet. Elgar’s String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83 will conclude the performance following the intermission.

Haydn, an 18th-century Austrian composer lauded as the father of string quartets, composed 104 symphonies, 50 concertos, 84 string quartets and several other works within his lifetime. String Quartet in C Major, Op. 20, No. 2 is among the master’s three sets of six string quartets. Concertgoers can expect from the piece to highlight the “change from the very first measure as the cello introduces the melody, accompanied by the viola and second violin,” the Spokane String Quartet’s website reads. The quartet creates a “conversation between four equal voices able to convey deep musical thought and emotions with four-part harmony and counterpoint.”

Following Haydn, audience members will hear Britten’s 3 Divertimenti. Penning the piece at the young age of 20 as one of three musical portraits in honor of school friends, the 20th century composer continued to revise the quartet over a three-year period into the work’s current rendition.

An English patriot of the World War I era, Elgar composed String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 83 following a creative dry spell cast from the war then rejuvenated as the composer returned to the English countryside. His wife, Lady Alice Elgar, the Spokane String Quartet writes on its website, considered the second movement of the opus as “captured sunshine,” written at a time when Elgar “powerfully and introspectively faces a changed world.”

The Spokane String Quartet’s final concert is 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bing Crosby Theater. The quartet features Mateusz Wolski on first violin, Amanda Howard-Phillips on second violin, Jeannette Wee-Yang on viola and Helen Byrne on cello.