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THE EMERSON PLAYS COMPLETE BEETHOVEN STRING QUARTETS IN CONTEXT

 

 

Antoine du Rocher

NEW YORK, 30 MAY 2007—The string quartet is often seen as the vehicle for the blossoming of a certain idea of pure music, born during the early years of German romanticism.  For those with a passion for this intimate musical form, the Emerson String Quartet's Perspective Series at Carnegie Hall is an excellent pretext to visit New York City before the arrival of the often intolerable tropical humidity that is the defining feature of summer in New York.

Unquestionably America's finest string quartet, the Emerson has programmed a series of eight concerts that feature the complete Beethoven quartets alongside works ranging from Mendelssohn and Schubert to Ives, Bartok, and Shostakovich, along with the world premiere of a new quartet by the Paris-based Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho entitled Terra Memoria, commissioned by Carnegie Hall. Until now, such an approach has been the chasse gardée of the Alban Berg Quartet , the leading draw in string quartets, for over twenty years. The Viennese quartet is revered, notably in Europe, for its ablility to communicate the same classical elegance in Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert as in Berg, Bartok or Janacek. Fresh from performances of the Beethoven cycle in Europe earlier this spring, it will be interesting to hear the Emerson in its approach to Beethoven in context.

Each concert, except June 3, will be preceded by a "prelude concert", a 45-minute chamber music event featuring talented young musicians. To introduce the Perspectives series there will be a lecture on June 2 in Weill Recital Hall which will include guest lecturers Michael Steinberg, author of The Symphony: A Listener's Guide; Ara Guzelimian; and members of the Emerson Quartet.

Beethoven's 16 string quartets, composed between 1798 and 1826, stand today as a cornerstone of the chamber music repertoire. The first six quartets, created early in the composer's life, clearly show the influence of Bach, Haydn, and Mozart. Beethoven continued to expand upon the string quartet form throughout his lifetime as his compositional style evolved. His last five quartets, including the Grosse Fuge, were the final works that he completed and among the most complex and forward-looking that he ever composed. They continue to inspire and influence composers to this day.


Emerson String Quartet
Photo Credit: Mitch Jenkins

PERSPECTIVES SERIES CONCERT SCHEDULE.

Thursday, May 31 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Haydn:   String Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3, "Bird"
Mozart:   String Quartet in C Major, K. 465, "Dissonance"
Beethoven:  String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, "Razumovsky" 
 
Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m. 
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Anna Polonsky, Piano
Haydn: Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII:6
Mozart: Adagio in B Minor, K. 540
Beethoven: Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54

Saturday, June 2 at 11am
Weill Recital Hall
Discovery Day: The Beethoven Quartets in Context
Members of the Emerson String Quartet join Ara Guzelimian for a series of lively discussions on Beethoven's string quartets, exploring performance issues and the works' central place in the string quartet repertoire.
 

Sunday, June 3 at 5 pm
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Beethoven: Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3
Beethoven: Quartet in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1
Beethoven: Quartet in C Minor, Op. 18, No. 4

- dinner break -

Beethoven: Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
Beethoven: Quartet in A Major, Op. 18, No. 5
Beethoven: Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6
 

Tuesday, June 5 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13, "Ist es wahr?"
Beethoven: Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1, "Razumovsky"
Schubert: Quartet in D Minor, D.810, "Death and the Maiden" 
 
Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Christian Van Horn, Bass-Baritone
Molly Morkoski, Piano
Mendelssohn: Songs to be announced
Beethoven: Bagatelles, Op. 126
Schubert: "Der Tod und das Madchen" ("Death and the Maiden"), D. 531

Thursday, June 7 at 8 pm
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Brahms: Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1
Ives: String Quartet No. 2
Beethoven: String Quartet in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2, "Razumovsky"
 
Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Jeremy Denk, Piano
Ives: Concord Sonata

Sunday, June 10 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Webern:  Langsamer Satz
Webern:  Five Pieces, Op. 5
Beethoven:   Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74, "Harp"
Beethoven:   String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, "Quartetto serioso"
Bartok:   String Quartet No. 3
 
Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Jeremy Denk, Piano
Bartok: Sonata TBA
Webern: Piano Variations, Op. 27
Beethoven: Thirty-Two Variations on an Original Theme in C Minor, WoO 80

Tuesday, June 12 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Beethoven:  Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127
Wolfgang Rihm:  Quartet No. 4
Beethoven: Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132

Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Inon Barnatan, Piano
Arnaud Sussmann, Violin
Priscilla Lee, Cello
Beethoven: Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 70, No. 2
 

Thursday, June 14 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Bach:  Fugues Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 18 from The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 15 in E-flat Minor, Op. 144
Beethoven:  Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130, with Große Fuge, Op. 133
 
Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Nina Lee, Cello
Thomas Sauer, Piano
Bach: Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, BWV 852
Shostakovich: Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, Op. 87, No. 4
Beethoven: Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Major, Op. 102, No.2


Sunday, June 17 at 8 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Beethoven:   Quartet in F Major, Op. 135
Kaija Saariaho:  Terra Memoria (World Premiere, Commissioned by The Carnegie Hall Corporation)
Beethoven: Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 13

Prelude Concert at 6:45 p.m.
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage
Jessica Lee, Violin
Ieva Jokubaviciute, Piano
Kaija Saariaho: Nocturne for Solo Violin
Beethoven: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 96

Carnegie Hall
57th Street & 7th Avenue
New York, NY
Tel: (1) 212 247 78 00

If New York is not on your business or leisure travel calendar, June will also see the Emerson String Quartet in Aspen, Colorado at the Aspen Music Festival (21 - 23 June),  the Ravinia Festival at Highland Park near Chicago (26 June). 

 In July, the Emerson will be at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts (1 July), and finally at Chamber Music Northwest / Reed College in Portland, Oregon for two concerts devoted to the late quartets of Shostakovitch and Beethoven (2, 3 July).

CD Tip


Brahms: Piano Quintet in F Minor / Complete String Quartets (1, 2, 3)
Emerson String Quartet
Leon Fleisher, piano

2 CDs (May 2007)
Deutsche Grammophon B000718-02
$18.98 U.S.

Formed in 1976, the Emerson String Quartet—violinists Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist David Finckel—celebrates its 30th Anniversary Season throughout 2006 - 2007. The Grammy Award winning quartet recently released an all-Brahms disc comprising the three Brahms Quartets and the Piano Quintet with Leon Fleisher whose distinguished career came to a halt in 1964 because of dystonia, a neurological disorder in the fingers of his right hand. Some forty years later and many performances of the left-handed repertoire to his credit, the American pianist has returned to the two-hand literature thanks to Botox treatments.



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