‘I cannot wait,’ the guitarist says
By Peter Alexander March 10 at 1:30 p.m.
Nicolò Spera is excited.
The guitarist and CU College of Music faculty member will perform Sunday and Monday with the Takacs Quartet, and he’s really pumped for the occasion. “I’m not sleeping at night, because I know it’s going to be one of the most exciting, incredible musical experiences of my life,” he says. “I cannot wait!”
The Takacs has long made it a point to include CU music colleagues on their concerts. In the words of second violinist Karoly Schranz, “it feels like a family, the College of Music. We have such a close connection with the faculty, it’s always a great feeling to play with them.”
In addition to Spera, the Takacs has already appeared this year with tenor Matthew Chellis and pianist Andrew Cooperstock from the CU faculty, and later in the spring they will also host violist Erika Eckert and cellist David Requiro as guest artists.
The program for the March 10–11 concert includes two works for the quartet alone, Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D major, K575, and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, op. 131. Both are late works of the respective composers, and are among the great treasures of the repertoire.
With Spera, they will play portions of two different works: two movements from Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet in D major, known as the “Fandango” Quintet, and a movement from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Quintet for Guitar and Strings.
Spera didn’t want to play only the Boccherini on the concert because he has played it so often. But the entire Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet was too long to fit with the rest of the Takacs program, so he and first violinist Ed Dusinberre came up with the idea of playing individual movements from the two pieces.
“As crazy as it may seem, it sort of makes sense, because they have a lot of things in common,” Spera says of the two quintets. “Boccherini and Castelnuovo-Tedesco both loved the guitar, even though they didn’t play it. They both wrote guitar quintets, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco was inspired by Boccherini to write his own.
“The pairing of Fandango Quintet and the second movement of Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet works very well, for two reasons. The most important one is that they’re both very Spanish sounding. Boccherini was in Spain when he wrote the Fandango Quintet, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco was from a Sephardic Jewish family from Spain. And the keys (of the movements) work too.”
The movement by Castelnuovo-Tedesco is specifically about his family’s relationship with Spain. Titled Souvenir de España, it expresses the composer’s nostalgia for Spain when he was living in America, exiled from Europe by World War II. “It has the most beautiful theme which is introduced by the viola, and then one by one by all the members of the quartet, and then last you hear the voice of the guitar,” Spera says.
Returning to the subject of performing with the Takacs, Spera has one more thing he wants to say. “They are humble people, but for me they’re superstars. It’s a very humbling and very beautiful opportunity for me.”
Incidentally, the concert will be the final full performance by the Takacs with Schranz playing second violin. He announced his retirement earlier this year, effective May 1. He will be replaced by Harumi Rhodes, a member of the CU College of Music faculty.
For the Takacs Quartet’s final concert of the 2017–18 season, April 29–30, Schranz will play with the quartet for half of the concert, with Rhodes taking over second violin for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet, “Souvenir de Florence.” Eckert and Requiro will complete the ensemble for that work.
Both performances of the coming concert are listed as “sold out,” but there may be tickets available at the last minute from the box office in the lobby of the Imig Music Building.
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Takacs Quartet with Nicolò Spera, guitar
Mozart: String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K.575
Excerpts from Boccherini: Guitar Quintet in D Major, G.448; and
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Quintet for Guitar and Strings, Op. 143
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131
4 p.m. Sunday, March 11
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12
Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building
SOLD OUT; last minute seats may be available
EDITED March 11 to add the full name of cellist David Requiro, whose given name was inadvertently omitted in the original article.