Evening Concert

Opening Concert String Quartet Biennale 2020

  • 20:15
  • 25.01.2020
  • Grote Zaal
  • € 37

Artemis Quartett
Vineta Sareika violin
Suyoen Kim violin
Gregor Sigl viola
Harriet Krijgh cello

Alfred Schnittke String Quartet no. 3
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart String Quartet no. 23, KV 590
Béla Bartók String Quartet no. 6

2019 marks the Artemis Quartett’s thirtieth year on the stage. They have gone through turbulent times, each time reinventing themselves afresh to take their place at the forefront of their field – a true testimony to the characteristic resilience and complexity of a string quartet. They will celebrate their anniversary in the Netherlands during the String Quartet Biennale, with the opening concert as high point: a striking programme featuring three substantial works. 


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Gregor Sigl is the quartet’s violist: ‘It is a groundbreaking challenge for us and definitely a high point; performing the final string quartet of two of the most significant composers of this genre in a single concert. The contrast could not be starker: Mozart’s final quartet radiates a boundless joie de vivre, while Bartok’s sixth string quartet expresses deep mourning.’


Jerusalem Quartet

  • 20:15
  • 26.01.2020
  • Grote zaal
  • € 37

Jerusalem Quartet
Alexander Pavlovsky violin
Sergei Bresler violin
Ori Kam viola
Kyril Zlotnikov cello

Gregor Sigl (Artemis Quartett) viola

Joseph Haydn String Quartet no. 61, op. 76/2 ‘Fifths
Béla Bartók String Quartet no. 4
Johannes Brahms String Quintet no. 2, op. 111

Haydn and Bartók are both unique and inimitable in their own way. Haydn’s ‘Fifths’ Quartet may seem straightforward enough, yet appearances can be deceptive – as is almost always the case with Haydn. In contrast, Bartók’s fourth string quartet seems complex and unfathomable, but as the work unfolds its intrinsic beauty becomes apparent and its expressive idiom more accessible. 

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In its four-part simplicity the string quartet can be an intimate chamber ensemble but it is also capable of producing full orchestral power. Brahms demonstrates that by adding an extra viola it is even possible to far surpass an orchestra in terms of power. His second string quintet was intended to be his final work. It reveals him at the height of his powers: every bar is convincing, every last structural detail is perfect; this ravishing music explodes with incandescent energy. Gregor Sigl from the Artemis Quartett teams up with his colleagues.

A pre-concert talk will be given by Sabine Lichtenstein at 7.15 pm in the Kleine zaal.

Jerusalem 2 (C) Felix Broede

Pavel Haas Quartet

  • 20:15
  • 27.01.2020
  • Grote zaal
  • € 37

Pavel Haas Quartet
Veronika Jarůšková violin
Marek Zwiebel violin
Jiří Kabát viola
Peter Jarůšek cello

Hélène Clément (Doric String Quartet) viola
John Myerscough (Doric String Quartet) cello

Dmitri Shostakovich String Quartet no. 2, op. 68
Antonín Dvořák String Sextet, op. 48

Shostakovich’s second string quartet opens in a restless mood – with a sense of seeking and urgency. However, in the second movement he creates a feeling of repose with his Shakespearean monologues for the first violin, accompanied by reverential chords. Providing a striking contrast, Dvořák’s sextet overflows with Czech folklore. The two composers interpret the same tonality – A major – in a totally different fashion: one in a weighty and serious way, the other graceful and joyful.

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The Pavel Haas Quartet enjoys expanding the string quartet’s limits to explore other chamber music forms. Together with John Myerschough and Hélène Clément from the Doric String Quartet, they add an extra dimension to the String Quartet Biennale’s palette with Dvořák’s sextet.

The pre-concert talk will be given by Leo Samama at 7.15 pm in the Kleine zaal.

Pavel Haas QuartetPhoto: Marco Borggreve
IMG_8532 George Garnier
IMG_8527 George Garnier

Doric String Quartet

  • 20:15
  • 28.01.2020
  • € 37

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.

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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.

Doric close_George Garnier
Brett Dean_credit Bettina Stoess_4-2

Juilliard String Quartet

  • 20:15
  • 29.01.2020
  • Grote zaal

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. 

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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.


Quatuor Danel + Nederlands Kamerkoor

  • 20:15
  • 30.01.2020
  • Grote zaal
  • € 37

Quatuor Danel
Marc Danel violin
Gilles Millet violin
Vlad Bogdanas viola
Yovan Markovitch cello

Nederlands Kamerkoor
Peter Dijkstra conductor

Lera Auerbach Ars Goetia (Dutch première)*

*Co-commission Muziekgebouw and String Quartet Biënnale Amsterdam

Lera Auerbach fled from Russia to the United States at a young age. She made her career as pianist and composer, writes poetry and is also a visual artist. In 2016 the Nederlands Kamerkoor gave the world première of 72 Angels, a monumental work for choir and saxophone quartet. The String Quartet Biennale now presents the Dutch première of Gothia – a sequel to 72 Angels, this time composed for choir and string quartet.

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Lera Auerbach’s work is a colourful world full of extreme contrasts and sharp antitheses in which everything is based on fantasy and the power of imagination: ‘I dream and transform the dream into sounds. I translate the sounds into symbols that allow the dream to be relived.’

Quator DanelPhoto: Marco Borggreve
Lera Auerbach

On the Night Plain

  • 20:15
  • 31.01.2020
  • Grote zaal
  • € 37

Arditti Quartet
Irvine Arditti violin
Ashot Sarkissjan violin
Ralf Ehlers viola
Lucas Fels cello

Calder Quartet
Benjamin Jacobson violin
Andrew Bulbrook violin
Jonathan Moerschel viola
Eric Byers cello

Signum Quartett
Florian Donderer violin
Annette Walther violin
Xandi van Dijk viola
Thomas Schmitz cello

Annechien Koerselman stage direction
Ascon de Nijs set design

Arvo Pärt Fratres
Steve Reich Different Trains
Pascal Dusapin String Quartet no. 5

Valentin Silvestrov String Quartet no. 1
Henryk Górecki String Quartet no. 2, op. 64 ‘Quasi una fantasia

Morton Feldman Structures for String Quartet
Kevin Volans String Quartet no. 12

Terry Riley Cadenza on the Night Plain

The pre-concert talk will be given by Alex Ross (in English).

Concert ends at around 00:30hrs

Each festival edition features a concert on the Friday evening that breaks with all conventions: a staged, spectacularly unique event of unprecedented length that provides the string quartet with a new canvas to play with. Eight works for string quartet – each more unorthodox than the other – with Different Trains and Cadenza on the Night Plain as the programme’s two main focal points.

Embark on a four-hour journey exploring humanity and human endeavour – destruction, beauty, emotion and their natural limits. The journey takes in five substantial but highly unusual works of the string quartet canon: Fratres, Different Trains, Górecki’s second string quartet, Structures for String Quartet and Cadenza on the Night Plain.

The pre-concert talk will be given at 7.15pm by Alex Ross (in English)

Calder (C) Autumn de Wilde (2)
Calder b:w_Autumn de Wilde
Signum Quartet

Final concert String Quartet Biennale

  • 20:15
  • 01.02.2020
  • Grote zaal
  • € 39

Signum Quartett
Florian Donderer violin
Annette Walther violin
Xandi van Dijk viola
Thomas Schmitz cello

Bram van Sambeek bassoon

Ivy Priaulx Rainier String Quartet (Dutch première)
Carlo Gesualdo Madrigals from Books IV and V
Sebastian Fagerlund Quintet for string quartet and bassoon (world première)*
Carlo Gesualdo Madrigals from Books IV and V
Kevin Volans New work for string quartet and wind quintet (Dutch première)

* Co-commission String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam, West Cork Chamber Music Festival and Korsholm Festival

The concluding concert of the second String Quartet Biennale promises to be an exuberant feast. A week overflowing with string quartets closes with something a little different: the Signum Quartett with Bram van Sambeek on the bassoon and Calefax. We will hear no less than three premières – two freshly written and one rediscovered – interspersed with madrigals by Gesualdo. 

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The string quartet by the South African composer Ivy Priaulx Rainier was much admired in the 1930s and it was even the very first commercial recording of the Amadeus Quartet. Sebastian Fagerlund previously wrote a bassoon concerto for Bram van Sambeek. Now he takes on the rare combination of bassoon and string quartet. Arrangements of Gesualdo’s madrigals act as the connecting link weaving together these diverse works for strings and winds, which ultimately join forces to perform Kevin Volans’s new work.

Bram van Sambeek
Calefax 2014Photo: Marco Borggreve
01 Kevin Volans 1 – Madrid, 4-dic-2018 (Fotógrafo José Pedro Salinas) (1)

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Pre-concert talk

Alex Ross speaker

Dudok QuartetPhoto: Marco Borggreve

Rameau / Roukens; Rameau / Ravel

Dudok Quartet Judith van Driel violin Marleen Wester violin Marie-Louise de Jong viola David Faber cello Jean-Philippe Rameau Pièces de Clavecin (arr. Joey Roukens) Joey Roukens What Remains (World première)… Read more


Highlights of the first Biennale

We frequently post pictures and movies on Facebook and Instagram, but for those who aren’t active on social media, we created a Flickr album containing a selection of festival highlights. Click… Read more