“…they crank out virtuosity by the bucketful and passion by the yard.” –The Washington Post
Alexandra Kazovsky, violin
Gershon Gerchikov, violin
Jan Grüning, viola
Amit Even-Tov, cello
HAYDN: String Quartet in G major, Op. 76, No. 1
BERG: String Quartet, Op. 3
BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130 with Grosse Fuge, Op. 133
The concert is approximately 2 hours.
92Y Concerts at SubCulture is a co-presentation of 92Y and SubCulture.
This concert takes place in SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St.
BRAHMS: String Quartet in C minor, No.1, Op.51 No.1 – IV. Allegro
Explore the Music
(Click the names below to expand info.)
Statement from the Artists
by Jan Grüning, viola
Assembling an appealing and intriguing program is always a stimulating task, yet not always an easy one. Fortunately, the string quartet repertoire in its richness features an extensive amount of pieces, composers and styles to choose from, which in turn results in a wide array of possibilities regarding the character of the program in question. Furthermore, as artists occupied with a genre that depicts a compositional history of over 250 years, we usually feel obliged not merely to single out a specific snippet of said history but rather to expose our audience to as many of the repertoire's captivating aspects as possible.
Including contemporary music, or at the very least 20th century music, is of the greatest importance to us: today's art mirrors our era, our society, and however demanding, we believe it our duty to give it our truthful attention. By coupling pieces accordingly, we try to provide the listener with the opportunity to experience the music of our contemporaries next to the works of our musical ancestors in the powerful setting of a live performance.
Few have influenced and shaped string quartet repertoire as much as Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven. The former is widely recognized not only for originating the genre itself and lending it its classical structure, but just as much for endowing it with its first 68 quartets—an output that has yet to be equaled by any composer. The latter, circling the genre from a safe distance during his first ten years in Vienna, finally debuted with his set of Op. 18 quartets and continued to create music for this medium that incontrovertibly belongs to the highest means of expression humankind could ever hope to reach.
In the program at hand, we have paired two works of those musical giants, conceived at the height of their compositional zeniths, respectively, with one of Alban Berg's very first significant works, his String Quartet Op. 3. Soulful, atmospheric and at times rather romantic, it is not only his first atonal work but also marks "Berg's transition from apprenticeship to musical maturity" (John Palmer).
Listening to Berg's music—or in fact any music composed in the 20th century—is especially compelling when encountered in the context of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, Op. 133. This, the original final movement of his Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130, was fairly unanimously received by Beethoven's contemporaries as "a confusion of Babel" (so described by the German newspaper Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in 1826), and it took many decades, if not centuries, for people to accept the uncompromising nature of this music.
In March 1820, Beethoven wrote in his "Konversationsheft" (practically deaf since 1818, Beethoven was forced to communicate by means of these conversation booklets): "The world is a king, who desires to be flattered in order to show itself favorable—but true art is self-willed and does not let itself be forced into any flattering form." This declaration defines and is true for every one of these three pieces in their very own way and unifying them in this program, we feel, will prove a particularly symbiotic and cogent portrayal of radically different periods of music making.
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Characterized by its youth, brilliant playing, and soulful interpretations, the Ariel Quartet (Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Gershon Gerchikov, violin; Jan Grüning, viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello) has quickly earned a glowing international reputation for its performances from memory. In October 2013 the Quartet was chosen to receive the prestigious biennial Cleveland Quartet Award, given to a rising young string quartet whose exceptional artistry demonstrates the potential for a major career. In January 2012 the Quartet was named quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College–Conservatory of Music, a distinguished achievement for such a young ensemble.
Formed in Israel, the Quartet moved to the US in 2004 to continue its studies. It served as the resident ensemble in the New England Conservatory’s prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program through the members’ graduation in 2010. The Quartet has won a number of international prizes, including the Grand Prize at the 2006 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, and Third Prize plus the Székely Prize for its performance of Bartók at the 2007 Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Highlights of the Quartet’s 2013/14 season include two performances of the complete Beethoven cycle, performed for the first time by a quartet, all of whose members are under the age of 30; a series of performances with cellist Alisa Weilerstein; a collaborative concert with pianist Orion Weiss; and three residencies for the Perlman Music Program. The Ariel Quartet remains committed to performing extensively in Israel, and returns there frequently to appear in concert. It has also performed extensively in Europe and North America, appearing at such venues as the Louvre in Paris, Kaisersaal in Frankfurt, Jordan Hall in Boston, and the Corcoran and National galleries and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
In addition to performing the traditional quartet repertoire, the Ariel Quartet regularly collaborates with many musicians and composers, including pianists Menahem Pressler and Roman Rabinovich, the American and Jerusalem string quartets, violist Roger Tapping and cellist Paul Katz. Additionally, the Ariel was quartet-in-residence in the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival for two consecutive years.
Taught by Paul Katz, Donald Weilerstein, Miriam Fried, Kim Kashkashian and Martha Strongin Katz, among others, the Quartet has received extensive scholarship support for the members’ studies in the US from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Dov and Rachel Gottesman, and the Legacy Heritage Fund. Most recently, they were awarded a substantial grant from The A. N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation. The Quartet’s website is arielquartet.com.
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