Marc Danel violin
Gilles Millet violin
Vlad Bogdanas viola
Yovan Markovitch cello
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet no. 2, op. 18/2
Mieczysław Weinberg Improvisation & Romance
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.
The first notes of this quartet evoke images of Viennese courts and palaces; gracious bows and nods in golden ballrooms; the young Beethoven eager to claim his place in the tradition of his predecessors. It is an elegant and invigorating quartet, cast in a traditional form.
Quatuor Danel has a special link to the Weinberg piece they have chosen to perform alongside Beethoven’s work: in 2018 they gave the world première of the work, which was written in 1950.
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.
Florian Donderer violin
Annette Walther violin
Xandi van Dijk viola
Thomas Schmitz cello
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.
In ‘The Anatomy of String Quartet’ the Signum Quartett will reveal some relevant aspects of their characteristic and personal working process.
This presentation will be given in English.
Esen Kıvrak violin
Özgür Baskın violin
Efdal Altun viola
Çağ Erçağ cello
Serhan Bali speaker
Works by Fazıl Say, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Ahmed Adnan Saygun and Hasan Uçarsu
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 Quartet 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.
The string quartet enjoys great prominence in Turkey, on the border between East and West – one could say it has attained cult status. The Borusan Quartet is the embodiment of this success. Huge concert halls are regularly sold out for their performances, which draw young and old alike. What lies behind the great popularity of the string quartet in Turkey?
In the 19th century there was an exchange between the musical cultures of Europe and the Ottoman court – Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca is a prime example. However, it was only in the 1920s that the first Western style conservatories were established in Turkey. The composers who studied there on the border of East and West united the two traditions. The results varied from western instrumental combinations in the Turkish traditional style, to Turkish music in a completely westernised style. The string quartet is alive and well in Turkey – now the Borusan Quartet and the presenter, writer and musicologist Serhan Bali bring the Turkish string quartet to life in the Netherlands.
Marc Danel violin
Gilles Millet violin
Vlad Bogdanas viola
Yovan Markovitch cello
Guillaume Lekeu Molto adagio, sempre cantante doloroso
César Franck 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.
This Belgian programme features two rarely performed works, one conceived on a grand scale and the other of more modest dimensions. ‘Molto adagio, sempre cantante doloroso’ – extremely slowly, always singing with great sorrow. The title chosen by the 17-year-old Lekeu speaks volumes. At the top of the score he also wrote ‘my soul is sorrowful, to the point of death.’ Lekeu’s death at the tender age of 24 restricted his string quartet oeuvre to just four short works, of which this is the most emotionally developed.
Lekeu studied with Franck, a late-blooming composer who wrote only one string quartet, inspired by the late Beethoven quartets. It is a majestic Romantic work more than three quarters of an hour in duration. Written just seven months before his death, it marked his first great success as a composer.
Almost every night, a young upcoming string quartet of the Conservatory of Amsterdam 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.
Juilliard String Quartet
Areta Zhulla violin
Ronald Copes violin
Roger Tapping viola
Astrid Schween cello
Henri Dutilleux Ainsi la Nuit
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quartet no. 17, KV 458 ‘Hunt’
Johannes Brahms String Quartet no. 2, op. 51/2
Dutilleux composed just one string quartet – for the Juilliard String Quartet, almost half a century ago. It was quite rare for a 20th-century string quartet to become a canonic work of the repertoire as quickly as Ainsi la nuit did. However it comes as no surprise: the work unfolds elegantly in an idiom that links Debussy, Ravel, Bartók and Stravinsky to the 21st century.
Brahms is frei aber einsam in his op. 51/2. He incorporated this theme prominently in the opening, using the notes F-A-E and returns to it throughout the work, with a sombre melancholy and surges of restlessness. In contrast, Mozart’s ‘Hunt’ quartet has a deeply rooted happiness at its core, as opposed to joyfulness. He cast this overwhelmingly pure emotion in a pastoral form.
The pre-concert talk will be given by Michel Khalifa at 7.30 pm in the Kleine zaal.
Benjamin Jacobson violin
Andrew Bulbrook violin
Jonathan Moerschel viola
Eric Byers cello
Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet no. 12, op. 127
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.
The first of Beethoven’s late quartets opens with strong forte chords in E flat major – the tonality that represented heroism and power to Beethoven. It would seem to be a clear statement. However, rather than continuing in this vein, Beethoven suddenly withdraws into himself – a sudden mood swing typical of his late quartets. All in all, this quartet is exceptionally mild-natured in comparison with the others.
Calder Quartet Benjamin Jacobson violin Andrew Bulbrook violin Jonathan Moerschel viola Eric Byers cello Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quartet no. 14, KV 387 Péter Eötvös Korrespondenz