Season Preview: String Quartets

By bkochel on October 6, 2009

As we near the beginning of the season, I thought it might be helpful to give an overview of the different series and to point out concerts that I feel might be of special interest to our ticket buyers.  I thought I would start by covering the string quartets that are appearing with us this season.  I will share my thoughts on the recitals in the upcoming weeks.

  • European Quartets.  European quartets offer a wonderful contrast, in terms of sound and approach, to what we are accustomed to hearing from many American quartets, and can often change the way you listen to chamber music altogether.  Many of these quartets don't travel to this country on a regular basis, and it can often be years before you have a chance to hear them again.   Some of the very best  are appearing this season, including the Artemis and Hagen Quartets, from Germany; Prague's Pavel Haas Quartet; the Takács Quartet, of Hungarian origin; and the truly international Belcea Quartet.
  • Younger quartets.  For those inspired by youthful energy or a musical perspective not overly burdened by the past, or even those who worry that the great chamber music tradition will disappear with the retirement of older groups, these younger quartets should really be heard:  the Brentano, St. Lawrence, ChiaraBelcea and Miró.
  • Established Quartets. In contrast, it can be very rewarding listening to the subtle ways an established quartet changes its sound over the years.  As they live with repertoire over several decades, they gain insights into music that very often escape groups that have spent much less time with each other.  It can be one of the great joys of concert-going following the paths of musicians such as the Emerson, Juilliard and Tokyo Quartets.  It should also be noted that this season is the last chance to hear the Mendelssohn Quartet before they retire,  and that three members of the recently retired Guarneri Quartet (Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree and Peter Wiley) will appear again in various ensembles (on November 18, January 11, January 21, February 12 and April 11).
  • Rarely heard repertoire.  Several concerts have to be mentioned simply because there aren't that many chances to hear these important pieces played by great musicians:  Schubert's "Trout" Quintet on January 11; the Brahms Horn Trio on March 12; the Barber Quartet on March 19; Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht on April 11; and Grieg's Quartet in G Minor on April 28.

Have a question about any of these groups or the works they're performing?  Send me an e-mail or give us a call here in the Box Office.  I'll write more about the Piano, String and Vocal Series soon.