Concert Program III

Cellos and Fugues

As the viola da gamba gave way to the cello, composers explored the modern instrument’s powerful sonority in myriad ways, from Jean-Baptiste Barrière’s unique Sonata for Two Cellos to Haydn’s deployment of the instrument as an equal partner in ensemble dialogue. From its opening measures, Haydn’s Quartet in C Major, op. 20, no. 2, emphatically declares a new style, with first violin sitting quietly as the cello issues a soaring melody. The cello’s full range of expressive possibilities would inspire composers centuries hence, from Haydn’s contemporary Luigi Boccherini to Alexandre Tansman, Michael Finckel, and others in the twentieth century. Equally novel was Haydn’s use of the fugue, a quintessential Baroque convention, in the service of au courant musical expression. Haydn’s elevation of cellos and fugues lights the way for Alexander Glazunov’s majestic String Quintet.


Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707–1747)
Sonata no. 10 in G Major for Two Cellos (ca. 1740)
Joseph Haydn(1732–1809)
String Quartet in C Major, op. 20, no. 2, Hob. III:32, Sun (1772)
Luigi Boccherini(1743–1805)
String Quintet in D Major, op. 49, no. 1, G. 365 (1794)
Alexandre Tansman (1897–1986)
Two Movements for Four Cellos (1935)
Michael Finckel(Born 1945)
The Red Cow Is Dead for Four Cellos and Narrator (1965)
Alexander Glazunov(1865–1936)
String Quintet in A Major, op. 39 (1892)
Thursday 23Jul 2020