The internationally acclaimed St. Petersburg Quartet opens the 38th summer season of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society with performances at 8 p.m. on July 7 and 8 — Monday at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, Tuesday at the Chilmark Community Center.
The concert program includes Alexander Glazunov’s Three Novelettes, opus 15; the String Quartet in E-flat Major by Antonin Dvorák, and with the chamber society’s artistic director, Delores Stevens, joining the group on stage, the Piano Quintet by Dmitri Shostakovich.
The Dvorak quartet, written in 1879 and nicknamed “the Slavonic,” highlights the folk melodies and dance rhythms of the composer’s native Czechoslovakia. The St. Petersburg Quartet has carried the Glazunov pieces, composed in 1886, in its repertoire for some time; in a recent review, the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote: “They made the complex harmonies sound as if they were being produced by a much larger ensemble. And their delicate playing of high-lying phrases seemed to emanate from a single voice.”
The Quintet in G minor is an early work by Shostakovich, composed in 1940, when most of Europe had already plunged into war. It has become one of his most popular chamber works, a gravely serene piece marked by simplicity of texture and accessible melodies.
The St. Petersburg Quartet is the perfect embodiment of the Vineyard chamber society’s mission: bringing world-class music to Island audiences. Individually the musicians are violinists Alla Aranovskaya and Alla Krolevich, violist Boris Vayner and bassist Leonid Shukayev. Together, the Quartet has been described by the Miami Herald as “one of the most spectacularly well-knit groups in the world . . . In perfection of cleanly blended tone and intonation, it surpasses even groups like the Emerson.” The Washington Post has praised the Quartet as the world’s premiere interpreters of the music of Shostakovich, and The New York Times agrees: “By connecting with Shostakovich’s emotion without wallowing in the gestures, the St. Petersburg Quartet ennobles the music.”
Tickets to Monday and Tuesday’s concerts are $30 at the door, and students are always admitted free to programs of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society.