Joris van Rijn violin
Emi Ohi Resnick violin
Gijs Kramers viola
Jeroen den Herder cello
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet no. 4, op. 18/4
Toru Takemitsu Landscape I
In a subtle reference to Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, six festival days kick off with an Early Beethoven, in place of the previous festival’s Early Haydn series. Characterised by clarity, tension, humour and elegance, these quartets do not reflect the mature Beethoven’s complex and contrary character; instead, they reveal a young, ambitious Beethoven, embarking on the creation of an unparalleled quartet oeuvre.
It is the only quartet of the opus 18 series to be written in a minor key, but even more striking is its totally extrovert, almost theatrical nature. Haydn and Mozart, and even Beethoven himself in earlier works, claimed this tonality to express their Sturm und Drang feelings. With its four quick movements and restless themes, this quartet fits perfectly into this tradition.
Lex Bohlmeijer moderator
Take a cup of coffee and sit down together with Lex Bohlmeijer and his guests. The focus is on the string quartet – up close and personal. Personal anecdotes and insights into the string quartet open up a unique view of the complex world concealed behind the stage.
Lex Bohlmeijer hosts two programmes on Radio 4: “Passaggio” (weekdays at 7 p.m.) and the talk show “Diskotabel”. He also works in theatre as a dramaturgist and writer. He is active as a host of concerts, conferences and debates. Every Saturday, he publishes an interview with an inspiring special guest in De Correspondent online daily.
The theme and guests of each Coffee Talk will be announced in the run-up to the festival.
Brett Dean composer
Almost every morning during the String Quartet Biennale, various events will shed light on diverse aspects of the quartet. The Coffee Talk, which focuses on personal views on the quartet, will be followed by a masterclass, lecture or talk involving a more in-depth approach.
The Australian violist/composer/conductor Brett Dean has a relatively small string quartet oeuvre; however, he has made his mark on the international string quartet scene. Prior to the première of his latest string quartet this evening, he takes a detailed look at his earlier works, in collaboration with a string quartet from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
This talk will be given in English.
Rosa Arnold violin
Jeanita Vriens violin
Annemijn Bergkotte viola
Rebecca Wise cello
Claron McFadden vocals
Elvis Costello The Juliet Letters
Leoš Janáček String Quartet no. 2 ‘Intimate Letters‘
The string quartet has been in existence for two-and-a-half centuries so far. All these years the genre has been in contact with other cultures, languages, art forms and styles. Extending String Quartets falls somewhere between a concert, lecture-recital and crossover; it creates and rediscovers these connections. From American West Coast composers to encounters between East and West; from pop music to video art – all the boundaries are explored, expanded and blurred in the process.
Janaček sent more than 700 letters to his beloved, most of which remained unanswered. At the end of his life he poured all these passionate emotions into a string quartet. The passion that had remained stifled in real life was all the more incendiary in its musical form. In Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters, love takes on many voices. Each song is a fictitious letter written by an unknown writer. In this way a new story unfolds in each song; a new love. The Ragazze Quartet and Claron McFadden join forces, performing these works in a theatrical setting.
Esen Kıvrak violin
Özgür Baskın violin
Efdal Altun viola
Çağ Erçağ cello
Pēteris Vasks String Quartet no. 4
Giuseppe Verdi String Quartet
Each day in Selected By a quartet will present two major works of its own choice in a one-hour performance without interval. The juxtaposition of the two pieces creates a strong contrast or tension, while in some cases their musical impact is reinforced by their relationship to each other.
Verdi is above all renowned for his operas, but not everyone is familiar with his small chamber music oeuvre; a single string quartet. And even though it is now considered as a unique canonic work, he himself spoke deprecatingly of it: ‘I composed it simply as a way to pass the time […] I attach no importance to the work and I do not wish to have it published or distributed in any way at the moment.’
The contrast with Vasks could scarcely be greater. His fourth string quartet is a personal monument, dedicated to his mother on the occasion of her 90th birthday. He reflects upon her life and the past century that she has lived through: ‘I saw an angel flying over the world; the angel looks at the world’s condition with grieving eyes, but an almost imperceptible, loving touch of the angel’s wings brings comfort and healing.’
Carel den Hertog speaker
Brett Dean guest
Be prepared for what you are about to hear; drop by the pre-concert talk before going to the evening concert. Six experts explain the story behind the concert you are about to hear. NB Unfortunately, only the pre-concert talks on the Tuesday and Friday are in English.
After the pre-concert talk, a young quartet of the Conservatory of Amsterdam will play a pre-programme in the entrance hall.
Almost every night, a young upcoming string quartet of the Conservatory of Amsterdam or the Dutch String Quartet Academy plays an exciting fifteen-minute pre-programme on the stage in the entrance hall. A perfect warm up for your ears, before going into the evening concert.
Doric String Quartet
Alex Redington violin
Ying Xue violin
Hélène Clément viola
John Myerscough cello
Brett Dean viola
Joseph Haydn String Quartet no. 37, op. 33/1
Brett Dean String Quartet no. 3 ‘Hidden Agendas’ (Dutch première)*
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quintet, op. 29 ‘Storm’
*Co-commission String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam in collaboration with Musica Viva Australia, Berlin Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall, Edinburgh International Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival
Brett Dean is a truly versatile musician. Formerly a violist with the Berliner Philharmoniker, these days he is highly active as a chamber musician, conductor, soloist and composer. The Doric String Quartet has a long history of collaboration with Dean. It will perform the Dutch première of his new string quartet and subsequently join forces with him in Beethoven’s ‘Storm’ quintet.
2020 marks Beethoven’s 250th anniversary. The String Quartet Biennale pays tribute to him with the Early Beethovens in the morning, the Late Beethovens in the evening and, to top it all off, his string quintet op. 29 – a no less imposing work than his string quartets.
The pre-concert introduction will be given (in Dutch) by Carel den Hartog at 7.30 pm in the Kleine zaal.
Lluís Castán Cochs violin
Judit Bardolet Vilaró violin
Miquel Jordà Saún viola
Jesús Miralles Roger cello
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet no. 16, op. 135
The string quartet can in fact be summed up in five extraordinary works: the late Beethoven quartets. These works transcend all boundaries and have retained their contemporary relevance for the past two centuries. The music is permeated by personal struggle and constantly shifts between unfathomable complexity and ethereal beauty. Using just four instrumental voices Beethoven redefined music’s universal expressive power. On six separate evenings one of these quartets will be performed at 10:30 pm.
Beethoven’s final string quartet is the odd one out. It is short, characterised by a warm tonality and reasonably classical in its form – all in all it would seem to be an easily accessible work. Then, suddenly, written in the score next to the opening notes of the final movement the historic words loom up: ‘Muss es sein? Es muss sein!’ Is this a deeply philosophical contemplation by Beethoven in his final complete work – is the work’s seemingly light-hearted nature just an illusion? – Or are the words merely a reference to an unpaid bill?