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Pacifica String Quartet to perform in Santa Fe

The Pacifica String Quartet will perform on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the New Mexico Museum of Art.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Known for its often daring repertory, the Pacifica String Quartet will play Shostakovich’s tribute to his first wife, along with Israeli composer Shulamit Ran’s memory piece about a composer who died in Auschwitz at Santa Fe’s St. Francis Auditorium on Sunday, Jan. 12.

Pacifica violist Mark Holloway has long been partial to Shostakovich’s unique harmonic language.

“I just find his a very unique voice,” Holloway said in a phone interview from Bloomington, Indiana, where the musicians are the quartet-in-residence at Indiana University. “It was a difficult life in Stalinist Russia. You had to say one thing and mean another.”

Stalin walked out of the premiere of the composer’s opera “Lady Macbeth.” The next day, Pravda denounced the work in a tirade. It was famously banned for 30 years.

The Israeli-born Chicago resident Shulamit Ran penned her Quartet No. 3, “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory” for the Pacifica Quartet in 2012.

Felix Nussbaum was a German-Jewish surrealist who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944 at age 39.

Nussbaum left some powerful, deeply moving art that spoke to the life that was unraveling around him.

“If I perish – do not let my paintings die,” he reportedly said. Knowing what was ahead, he continued painting until his death.

Ran’s work depicts what his life must have been as a stalked and imprisoned artist. The score directs the musicians to stomp their feet in specific places.

“It has a grim character,” Holloway said. “It alludes to this death machine. We think it’s a beautiful piece. Audiences come out quite moved by the music.”

The concert will end with Beethoven’s Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130, his last, written when he was completely deaf.

Holloway called it “one of his greatest.”

The “Catavina,” or fifth movement, is like a “desert island movement,” he said.

“People want this played at their funeral,” he added. “It’s so comforting and heartbreaking.”

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