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The acclaimed ensemble Artaria String Quartet will present “Basically Beethoven: Too Early, Too Late” as part of the Out-of-Our-Minds Chamber Music Series at Viterbo University starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, in the Fine Arts Center’s Nola Starling Recital Hall.

The “too early” portion of the program features Beethoven’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130, “Liebquartett,” while “too late” is represented by Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, “Kabardinian.” Both of these composers transcended their respective style periods, which makes the juxtaposition of their music on this concert program that much more intriguing for audiences.

“Artaria String Quartet continues to build their reputation throughout the Midwest and is frequently heard on Minnesota Public Radio,” said Mary Ellen Haupert, Viterbo music department faculty member. “They are committed to programming works that challenge their audiences, but the combination of clever programming and flawless playing is what keeps people coming back for more. Their dynamic and delightful personalities make the concert experience even more memorable and meaningful.”

Beethoven wrote his String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130 between March and October of 1825. At the request of the Schuppanzigh Quartet (who found the last movement too difficult), and with the encouragement of his publisher, Beethoven replaced the great fugue with an easier finale. This program will feature the monumental Grosse Fuge as the last movement of Op. 130 (with the finale omitted). In other words, in the original form that Beethoven intended.

Prokofiev’s composition of String Quartet No. 2 took place during World War II. As German troops approached Moscow in 1941, Prokofiev and a number of other distinguished composers, artists, and writers were sent to Nalchik, a small town of the Kabarda-Balkar Republic in the northern Caucasus mountain region (thus the subtitle “Kabardinian”).

It was there that Prokofiev heard the Russian folk music that inspired the F Major Quartet, which he began on Nov. 2 and completed just five weeks later. The premiere performance by the Beethoven Quartet in Moscow on Sept. 5, 1942, was interrupted by a German air raid.

The concert is free, but an offering will be taken for the musicians. The recital hall can be accessed from the Assisi Courtyard (north) side of the building as remodeling of the first floor of the Fine Arts Center is underway. Signs will be posted to direct patrons to the venue.

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Entertainment and county government reporter

Randy Erickson covers arts and entertainment and county government for the La Crosse Tribune. Contact him at 608-791-8219 or randy.erickson@lee.net.

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