The Chamber Music Society of San Francisco (CMSSF) is actually a string quartet, whose name may be intended as a west coast response to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Its founding members, violinists Natasha Makhijani and Jory Fankuchen, violist Clio Tilton, and cellist Samsun van Loon, came together out of a shared interest in repertoire. The first work they prepared was Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 132 quartet in A minor, the composition that some have claimed served as the inspiration for T. S. Eliot’s cycle of four poems, Four Quartets. For their next performance, they are working on a program by two composers who probably looked back on Beethoven but then looked forward in different directions.
From the nineteenth century they will perform the second of the Opus 44 string quartets by Felix Mendelssohn, his fourth quartet in the key of E minor. This will be complemented by the fourth quartet of Dmitri Shostakovich, his Opus 83 in D major completed in 1949. While Mendelssohn’s quartet in an unbridled outpouring of expressiveness covering a broad spectrum of highly personal moods, Shostakovich composed Opus 83 in the shadow of the Zhdanov decree, under which he would be accused of “formalism” and be denounced (for the second time) by the Communist Party (quite possibly while working on this particular piece). One consequence is that Opus 83 did not receive its first performance until 1953 (probably after the death of Joseph Stalin).
CMSSF will perform this program in San Francisco at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19. The venue will be a house concert in the Nopa neighborhood. Because seating is limited, reservations are required. These may be arranged through electronic mail, whose reply will provide the necessary additional details. Donations of $10 to $20 are suggested to support this occasion.