Home Delivery: Mozart and Warhol at the Menil Collection

The Menil Collection is the inspiring setting for a performance by the Brentano String Quartet from February 2016, featuring Mozart’s sublime Quintet in G Minor, with guest violist Hsin-Yun Huang.
The beauty of Mozart is set against Andy Warhol’s painting, Lavender Disaster [1963].

Dear friend of DACAMERA:

As we write today, COVID-19 numbers are at an all-time high in Houston, so our first thought goes towards your health and that of your families. We hope that you are safe and well, and that the music we send you with this Home Delivery will bring beauty into your day.
The Mozart G Minor Quintet, K. 516, is one of chamber music’s most eloquent compositions. The minor key, for Mozart, always inspires intensity and drama, and this elegantly classical work, with its heightened emotion, veers towards the romantic. The Quintet’s opening gives us a sense that we have walked in on a conversation which has already started, the questioning theme initiated by the first violin is soon answered by the viola, with the accompanying instruments adding urgency underneath the melody.  An underlying sense of urgency characterizes the entire work, climaxing in the exquisite adagio sections at the quintet’s center, which then resolve into a startlingly sunny last movement.
Mozart possesses a remarkable ability to express a wide range of human emotions; his depiction of character through music is what makes him such a great composer of opera, and the instrumental melodies of the Quintet are as inflected with expression as a sung vocal line. But it is impossible to characterize these emotions with a simple “happy” or “sad;” this will be determined by the ears of the subjective listener. I have been amazed, at different times in my life, to find the same themes in Mozart to be alternately joyous or deeply pained, depending on my own mood; the pathos of the music defies ordinary categories. What we hear at a given musical moment will reflect what we carry within ourselves, and can change over time.
DACAMERA’s performances at the Menil bring us a rare opportunity to experience art as well as music. With this video we are confronted by an unexpected counterpoint: the beauty of Mozart is set against Andy Warhol’s painting, Lavender Disaster. A silk-screened image of an empty electric chair is repeated fifteen times, bathed in the pastel hue of the title. A jarring backdrop, silent and stately, but one that acts as a mirror to the complex world in which we live. Violence and sublime beauty are possible at the same time, even co-exist, every day. Warhol’s painting, which dates from America’s turbulent year of 1963, is no less relevant today. With uncanny genius, Mozart reaches across the centuries and offers solace.
Stay safe, and be well—

Sarah Rothenberg
Artistic Director

DACAMERA’s relationship with the Brentano Quartet dates back several decades, and we have been proud to watch this New York-based group take its place among the world’s leading quartets. With annual performances at Carnegie Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, the Brentano also occupy the prestigious string quartet residency at Yale School of Music. For this performance, the Brentano “family” is expanded to include member violist Misha Amory’s wife, Hsin-Yun Huang. You can read first violinist Mark Steinberg’s excellent notes on the work here.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Quintet for Strings No. 4 in G Minor, K. 516 (1787)
I. Allegro
II. Menuetto (Allegretto)
III. Adagio ma non troppo
IV. Adagio – Allegro

Andy Warhol, Lavender Disaster, 1963
Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and pencil on linen 106 × 81 7/8 in. (269.2 × 208 cm)
The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

The DACAMERA series at the Menil Collection is underwritten by Louisa Stude Sarofim.