One of the coolest things about classical music and, yes, classical music has many facets of coolness is its connection to history. And the Veronika String Quartet totally gets it.
Founded at the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow in 1989, and relocated to the United States 10 years later, the quartet can take an audience on an aural trip through time. And they'll cover three centuries at the Louisa Performing Arts Center in Colorado Springs next Thursday.
"We like to play pieces from different styles," violinist Karine Garibova explains. "So, for this concert, we chose one classical, one Romantic and one contemporary piece."
The result is a tour of the evolution of the string quartet, with Joseph Haydn, Alexander Glazunov and Dmitri Shostakovich as guides.
Haydn (1732-1809) often is referred to as the "Father of the String Quartet," because he essentially created the form. "Papa" Haydn was, in fact, the inventor of many of the rules of the classical canon that composers follow (and break) even to this day.
He wrote "Emperor" toward the end of his lengthy career. (Some historical perspective: Haydn began his work well before Mozart's birth in 1756, and continued after his death in 1791.) While Mozart would further perfect the string quartet, Haydn created pieces that represented a natural musical extension of the thinking of the Enlightenment.
While listeners may be familiar with Haydn's "Emperor," Glazunov's "5 Novelettes" is performed less frequently.
"Glazunov lived at the beginning of the 20th century, but he was famous for composing ballet music in the Russian national style," Garibova says. "Though he wrote at the same time as [contemporary composer Igor] Stravinsky, his style was not recognizably contemporary."
This series of festive works will provide an able transition to the more contemporary Shostakovich.
A pioneering Russian composer whose music was twice denunciated by the Soviet government, Shostakovich did not begin writing for the string quartet until after completing his fifth symphony. "String Quartet No. 1" is surprisingly lighthearted; originally subtitled "Springtime," it was written in the dark year of 1938.
The Veronika quartet, who are enjoying a residency at CSU-Pueblo, chose to play the Shostakovich because they used to study with Valentin Berlinsky, of the famed Borodin String Quartet. That quartet is known for having developed a close relationship with Shostakovich at the beginning of their career.
"It's fun to play this, because we have such a connection to the composer it's almost secondhand," Garibova says.
An exhibit of landscapes by local artist Mariya Zvonkovich will appear in the Louisa Performing Arts Center gallery to start the evening.
The Veronika String Quartet
Louisa Performing Arts Center at The Colorado Springs School, 21 Broadmoor Ave.
Thursday, March 23; gallery opening at 5 p.m., concert at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $10-$15; call 475-9747, ext. 110.