Tuesday July 26th, 2022

Belin Quartet Concert Program

John Helmich, violin 
Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn, violin  
Rebecca Vieker, viola
George Work, cello

Mozart String Quartet No. 22 in B-Flat Major, K. 589

I. Allegro
II. Larghetto
III. Menuetto and Trio
IV. Allegro Assai

Program notes

Composed in May of 1790, Mozart’s String Quartet No. 22 in B-flat Major was the second of three “Prussian” string quartets dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. The King was an amateur cellist, giving Mozart the incentive to put the cello in a prominent role. During this period, Mozart was facing financial distress and was hoping to land a job in Wilhelm II’s court. However, economic hardship became too overwhelming for the composer, forcing him to sell his recent compositions to the music publisher Ataria (to whom he was in debt) instead of dedication to the king. Mozart’s life circumstances notwithstanding, the Prussian string quartets are still excellent displays of his compositional style.  

The Allegro movement is written in sonata form, with the primary theme featuring a descending sixteenth-note motive in the violins. The cello establishes the secondary theme in the dominant key of F Major, an example of Mozart’s efforts to give attention to this instrument. Similarly, the second Larghetto Movement begins with the cello’s upper register executing the central theme before being joined by the violin. The third movement is a Minuet and Trio, with the minuet in B-flat Major and the trio in E-flat Major. The cello is not featured as prominently in this movement, but it does conclude each section of the trio as a solo voice. The last movement is in 6/8 time and passes the melody among the different members of the quartet. 

Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 44, No. 1

I. Molto allegro vivace
II. Menuetto. Un poco allegretto
III. Andante espressivo ma con moto
IV. Presto con brio

Program notes

Written in July of 1838 at the age of 29, Felix Mendelssohn dedicated three string quartets to the Crown Prince of Sweden. Mendelssohn was said to have close connections to the nation because of his Swedish friend and composer, Adolf Fredrik Linbald. The pieces are recognized as the late composers first to express his individual style. Whereas before he had been heavily influenced by the work of Beethoven, the Op. 44 String Quartets strayed away and gave Mendelssohn his own distinct voice in the genre. The quartets were also unique in that they were written in reverse order, with No. 1 as the last to be composed. The trio of pieces first premiered in 1839 and have since become a staple in the string quartet repertoire.

Of all keys a string quartet may perform in, D-Major is the one best suited for the instruments. The piece begins with an epic and spirited melody. Critics have compared this movement to that of an odyssey, as listeners are carried from one “island” to another by rolling rhythmic textures and themes. The following movement strays into a dance-like minuet and is instead more eerily whimsical. Meanwhile, the third movement is rich and slow, with a luscious melody passed between each part. Of all the movements, this one evokes the most sorrowful emotions, with anguished grieving sounds prominent in the first violin. The tone of the presto con brio sharply contrasts this with a much more celebratory melody. It closely resembles that of the beginning and brings the piece full circle to its conclusion.

For more than 20 years, Belin Quartet concerts have been presented to our community at no charge through the generosity of the Belin Family.

Meet the Musicians

About the Belin Quartet

The Belin Quartet has been harmonizing with the Des Moines community for more than 20 years. With instrumental support from the Civic Music Association since its founding, the Belin Quartet honors the enduring legacy of David Belin (1928-1999) and Connie Belin (1930-1980).

More about the Quartet
Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn

Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn

Violin

Violinist Tracy Engman Finkelshteyn joined the Belin Quartet in 2005. A Des Moines native, she earned Bachelor of Music Education and Doctor of Music degrees from Northwestern University and a Master of Music Degree from the Yale School of Music.

Tracy was a member of the first violin sections of the Winnipeg Symphony and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and has served on the faculty of several Universities including Northwestern, St. Olaf College, Carleton College and North Carolina State University.

John Helmich

John Helmich

Violin

Violinist John Helmich has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2004. John received his Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and his Master of Music degree in Violin Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. While there, he was awarded the Howard Hanson Scholarship and graduated with High Distinction.
Julie Fox Henson

Julie Fox Henson

Violin

Violinist Julie Fox Henson has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2001 and is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony. She performs regularly as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the area. Julie enjoys a successful teaching studio in the Ames/Des Moines area and was voted the 2010 Leopold LaFosse Studio Teacher of the Year by the Iowa String Teachers Association.
Jonathan Sturm

Jonathan Sturm

Violin

Dr. Jonathan Sturm, violist, was a founding member of the Belin Quartet in 2000. He brings excellence to the complete spectrum of music: performance as a violin soloist, chamber musician, and concertmaster of the Des Moines Symphony, as a violist in the internationally acclaimed Ames Piano Quartet and as professor of Music History at Iowa State University.

Rebecca Vieker

Viola

Rebecca Vieker is a performer and teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. Born in Detroit, Rebecca began violin lessons at the age of 4 and began taking viola lessons during high school. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying under Jonah Sirota of the Chiara Quartet. She went on to earn a Master’s degree and a Performance Diploma from Boston University, under the tutelage of Michelle LaCourse.
George Work

George Work

Cello

Cellist George Work has been a member of the Belin Quartet since 2008. A professor of cello at Iowa State University and member of the Des Moines Symphony, George holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees of music and a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he also served as teaching assistant to Robert Sylvester.

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23rd Summer Season

Belin Quartet Summer Concert Series

Join us on the lawn at Salisbury House and Gardens on Tuesday evenings at 5:30 PM for free performances by the Belin Quartet.

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