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Benjamin Jacobson, Tereza Stanislav, violin • Jonathan Moerschel, viola • Eric Byers, cello
THOMAS ADÈS (b. 1971)
- Venezia notturno
- Das klinget so herrlich, das klinget so schon
- Auf dem Wasser zu singen
- Et… (tango mortale)
- O Albion
LUIGI BOCCHERINI (1743–1805)
String Quintet in C Major, Op. 28, No. 4
- Allegro con moto
- Minuetto con moto
- Rondeau. Allegro con moto
Edward Arron, cello
— Intermission —
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131
- Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo
- Allegro molto vivace
- Allegro moderato
- Andante, ma non troppo e molto cantabile
- Adagio quasi un poco andante
About the Calder Quartet:
Hailed as “Superb” and “imaginative, skillful creators” by the New York Times, the Calder Quartet captivates audiences exploring a broad spectrum of repertoire, always striving to fulfill the composer’s vision in their performances. The group’s distinctive artistry is exemplified by a musical curiosity brought to everything they perform and has led them to be called “one of America’s most satisfying – and most enterprising – quartets”. (Los Angeles Times)
Winners of the prestigious 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant, they are widely known for the discovery, commissioning, recording and mentoring of some of today’s best emerging composers. In addition to performances of the complete Beethoven and Bartok quartets, the Calder Quartet’s dedication to commissioning new works has given rise to premieres of dozens of string quartets by established and up-and-coming composers including Peter Eötvös, Andrew Norman, Christopher Rouse, Ted Hearne and Christopher Cerrone. Inspired by innovative American artist Alexander Calder, the Calder Quartet’s desire to bring immediacy and context to the works they perform creates an artfully crafted musical experience.
Recent highlights include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, multiple performances at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Salzburg Festival, Donaueschingen Festival, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Tonhalle Zurich, IRCAM Paris, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and the Sydney Opera House. They have performed as soloists with the Cleveland Orchestra and LA Philharmonic and have collaborated with musicians such as Thomas Adès, Peter Eötvös, Anders Hillborg, Daniel Bjarnasson, Andrew Norman, Audrey Luna, Johannes Moser, Joshua Bell, Menahem Pressler, Joseph Kalechstein, Paul Neubauer, Iva Bittová and Edgar Meyer. In 2017, the Calder Quartet signed an exclusive, multi-disc record deal with Pentatone with their debut recording featuring Beethoven scheduled for release in Fall 2018.
The quartet has signed an exclusive, multi-disc record deal with Pentatone records. Their debut recording features the music of Beethoven and Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Previously the quartet has appeared on Signum Classics, BMC records, Bridge Records and E1 recording the quartets of Peter Eötvös with Audrey Luna, Thomas Adès’ chamber music with the composer at the piano, early works of Terry Riley, the chamber music of Christopher Rouse, Mozart Piano concertos with Anne-Marie McDermott, and Ravel and Mozart quartets.
As a side project, the quartet has collaborated with acts such as Andrew WK, Lord Huron, Vampire Weekend, and The National. Television appearances include the Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson as well as radio appearances on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, Performance Today, WQXR New York, KUSC Los Angeles, Colorado Public Radio, and NPR.
In 2011 the Calder Quartet launched a non-profit dedicated to furthering its efforts in commissioning, presenting, recording, and education, collaborating with the Getty Museum, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Barbican Centre in London. The Calder Quartet formed at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and continued studies at the Colburn Conservatory of Music with Ronald Leonard, and at the Juilliard School, receiving the Artist Diploma in Chamber Music Studies as the Juilliard Graduate Resident String Quartet. The quartet regularly conducts master classes and has taught at the Colburn School, the Oberlin School the Juilliard School, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory and USC Thornton School of Music.
Six of the seven titles which comprise Arcadiana evoke various vanished or vanishing ‘idylls.’ The odd-numbered movements are all aquatic, and would splice if played consecutively. Movement I might be the ballad of some lugubrious gondolier; Movement III takes a title and a figuration from a Schubert Lied; in Movement V a ship is seen swirling away to L’Isle Joyeuse; Movement VII is the River of Oblivion. The second and sixth movements inhabit pastoral Arcadias, respectively: Mozart’s ‘Kingdom of Night,’ and more local fields. The joker in this pack is the fourth movement, the literal dead centre: Poussin’s tomb bearing the inscription Even in Arcady am I.
Arcadiana was commissioned by the Endellion Quartet with funds from the Holst Foundation.
Program Note by Thomas Adès
String Quintet in C Major, Op. 28, No. 4 (1779)
Born to a musical family in Lucca, Italy, Luigi Boccherini trained as a cellist in Rome before seeking glory in the major European capitals. He toured Vienna and Paris before finding lasting and lucrative employment in the service of Infante Luis, younger brother of King Carlos III of Spain and a lover of the arts (also a patron of Francisco de Goya). Initially based at the court in Madrid, Boccherini was soon obliged to follow Luis to the remote mountainous region of Ávila, where Carlos — fearful of the threat his brother might pose to the throne — had him exiled.
It was there, in the isolated town of Las Arenas de San Pedro, that Boccherini composed much of his best-regarded music, including the present string quintet. A great admirer of Haydn (the so-called “father of the string quartet”), Boccherini made the genre his own, composing nearly a hundred string quartets in his lifetime. Compared to Haydn’s, Boccherini’s quartets are notable for their adventuresome cello parts — only fitting, given Boccherini’s prowess on the instrument. And, building on Haydn’s model, Boccherini would write at least as many string quintets, adding a second cello to the ensemble so that he could play alongside Infante Luis’s own quartet.
For a composer as prolific and successful as Boccherini, it may seem surprising that his music is not heard more frequently today. The reasons for this are complex, but partly due to the trajectory of composition in Vienna over the nineteenth century, where the prevailing emphasis on formal structures and thematic development epitomized by Beethoven became the enduring model for the most prestigious concert forms. Boccherini’s music, in contrast, is characterized less by the unfurling of a large-scale forms than by a sensibility to instrumental textures and sonorities, strung together from one moment to the next, with more repetition (at least on the page) than “development.” But in a world that places increasing demands on our concentration, musicologist Elizabeth Le Guin suggests that Boccherini’s “exquisitely uneventful” music rewards the listener “willing to let one’s attention unmoor itself within time.”
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131 (1826)
With a handful of exceptions, most of Beethoven’s cycle of sixteen quartets were composed upon the commission of noblemen — notably, Prince Lobkowitz (the six Op. 18 quartets); Count Razumovsky (the three Op. 59 quartets); and Prince Galitzin of St. Petersburg (three late quartets which became Opp. 127, 130, and 132). But upon completing the final quartet of this commission, Beethoven’s musical imagination overflowed into two further quartets, Opp. 131 and 135, his final major works, both completed in 1826. Beethoven’s secretary and close friend, the violinist Karl Holz, recounted, “While composing the three quartets requested by Prince Galitzin, such wealth of new quartet ideas flowed from Beethoven’s inexhaustible imagination that he virtually had to write the Quartets in C-sharp Minor and F Major involuntarily. ‘My dear fellow, I’ve just had another idea,’ he would say jocularly and with glistening eyes when we were out walking, and would write down a few notes in his sketchbook.”
The quartet presents a seemingly paradoxical opposition between fragmentation and integration. Despite its seven-movement architecture, the quartet is performed as an uninterrupted and kaleidoscopic continuity. Despite its elaborate branches into six different key areas, the quartet consistently recalls its roots in the key of C-sharp. And although Beethoven joked to his publisher that he had pieced together the quartet out of stolen musical fragments, the work demonstrates Beethoven’s meticulous attention to deriving links between key relationships, tempi, and even motifs: the haunting four notes of the opening fugue subject are inverted and become the commanding six-note gesture which opens the Finale.
Beethoven told Holz that Op. 131 was his favorite among his late compositions; and yet, he died before having a chance to hear it performed. However, Franz Schubert, who had helped carry Beethoven’s coffin at his funeral in 1827, asked to hear the quartet as he lay on his own deathbed a year later. His wish was granted by Holz, five days before his death. Holz described the scene in effusive terms: “Schubert was sent into such transports of delight and enthusiasm and was so overcome that they all feared for him. The C-sharp minor Quartet was the last music that he heard! The King of Harmony had sent the King of Song a friendly bidding to the crossing!”
Program Notes by Peter Asimov