All posts by Patrick_McCarty

Quatuor Danel – April 21, 2020

with pianist Lise de la Salle

The Quatuor Danel was founded in 1991 and has been at the forefront of the international music scene ever since, with important concert performances worldwide and a row of groundbreaking CD recordings. The quartet is famous for their bold, concentrated interpretations of the string quartet cycles of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Shostakovich, and Weinberg. Their lively and fresh vision on the traditional quartet repertoire has delivered them subsequent praise from public and press. The other part of their force lies in the collaboration with major contemporary composers such as Wolfgang Rihm, Helmut Lachenmann, Sofia Gubaidulina, Pascal Dusapin Jorg Widmann and Bruno Mantovani.

Russian composers have a special place in the Quatuor Danel’s repertoire. They have championed all string quartets by Shostakovich and recorded the complete cycle for Fuga Libera in 2005. This box-set was re-issued by Alpha and still counts as one of the benchmark interpretations of Shostakovich’ quartets. The Danel were the first quartet to record the other great string quartet cycle of the twentieth century: the 17 quartets by Mieczysław Weinberg. Their performance in Manchester and Utrecht was the first time ever live interpretation of the complete Weinberg cycle worldwide.

Quatuor Danel website

Parker Quartet – March 24, 2020

Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. The Quartet has appeared at the world’s most important venues since its founding in 2002.

The  Parker  Quartet has  distinguished  itself  with acclaimed  recordings  for  Nimbus,  Zig-Zag Territoires,  Innova  Records,  and  Naxos.  The  Quartet’s  most  recent  recording  featuring Mendelssohn’s Quartets Op. 44, Nos. 1 and 3, was widely lauded by the international press. The Quartet’s debut commercial recording of Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 for Zig-Zag Territoires (July 2007) won praise from Gramophone: “The Parkers’ Bartók spins the illusion of spontaneous improvisation… they have absorbed the language; they have the confidence to play freely with the music and the instinct to bring it off.” Their Naxos recording of György Ligeti’s complete works for  string  quartet won the  2011 Grammy Award for  Best Chamber Music Performance (the last string quartet to win this category). In April 2016 Augusta Read Thomas’s world premiere recording of Helix Spirals for string quartet on “Of Being is a Bird” was released on Nimbus Records.

The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music from the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School, and the Quartet was part of the New England  Conservatory’s  prestigious  Professional  String  Quartet  Training  Program from 2006–2008. Some of their most influential mentors include the original members of the Cleveland Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, György Kurtág, Zakhar Bron, Robert Lipsett, Mark Steinberg, and Rainer Schmidt.

Parker Quartet website

Trio con Brio Copenhagen – February 25, 2020

“Glowing reports hold true. The Trio con Brio Copenhagen clearly occupies a lofty perch in today’s musical scene.” – Washington Post

Acknowledged as one of the world’s finest piano trios in the world, the Trio con Brio Copenhagen are about to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. To mark the occasion, Orchid Classics will be releasing their multi-volume traversal of the complete Beethoven Piano Trios.

The Trio was born out of an idea of the coming together of ‘musical pairs’ – of the two Korean-born sisters, Soo-Kyung Hong (cello) and Soo-Jin Hong (violin), with Soo-Kyung and her husband, Danish pianist Jens Elvekjaer. They quickly gained a reputation for their fresh and contemporary approach to the core repertoire and won almost all of the majorcompetitions for piano trio. Today they are regularly heard at the world’s leading venues andconcert series, among them, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Pierre Boulez-Saal, the Concertgebouw and many more.

Leading composers have dedicated works to the Trio, including Per Nørgård, BentSørensen’s and Sven-David Sandström. And reviews are fulsome. “One of the greatest performances of chamber music I’ve ever encountered,” praised American Record Guide.Gramophone wrote, “Superb…Any group would be hard-pressed to imitate this blend of verveand poise…” Their Mendelssohn album was chosen by the UK’s Classic FM as the Best Chamber Music Disc of the year.

The Trio are artistic directors of the Copenhagen Chamber Music Festival, the Chamber Music Festival on Lundsgaard Estate in Kerteminde and the Hellerup Chamber Music Society in Copenhagen. Soo-Jin plays an Andrea Guarneri violin, Soo-Kyung plays aGrancino cello, and Jens is Denmark’s first Steinway Artist. Both string players are endorsed by Jagar Strings and Thomastik-Infeld Vienna.

Trio con Brio Copenhagen website

Harlem Quartet – November 19, 2019

Harlem Quartet advances diversity in classical music while engaging new audiences with varied repertoire that includes works by minority composers. Their mission to share their passion with a wider audience has taken them around the world; from a 2009 performance at The White House for President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, to a highly successful tour of South Africa in 2012, and numerous venues in between. The musically versatile ensemble has performed with such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Ida Kavafian, Carter Brey, Fred Sherry, Misha Dichter, Jeremy Denk, and Paquito D’Rivera. The quartet also collaborated with jazz masters Chick Corea and Gary Burton on the album Hot House, a 2013 multi-Grammy Award winning release.

New York-based HARLEM QUARTET, currently serving a three-year residency at London’s Royal College of Music, has been praised for its “panache” by The New York Times and hailed in the Cincinnati Enquirer for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent.” It has also won plaudits from such veteran musicians as GRAMMY-winning woodwind virtuoso Ted Nash of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who declared in a May 2018 Playbill article, “Harlem Quartet is one of the greatest string quartets I have ever heard. They can play anything.” Since its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006, the ensemble has thrilled audiences and students in 47 states as well as in the U.K., France, Belgium, Brazil, Panama, Canada, Venezuela, Japan, and South Africa.

Harlem Quartet website

Musica Pacifica – October 15, 2019

Musica Pacifica has, since its founding in 1990, become widely recognized as one of America’s premier baroque ensembles, lauded for both the dazzling virtuosity and the warm expressiveness of its performances.

The press describes them as “some of the finest baroque musicians in America” (American Record Guide) and “among the best in the world” (Alte Musik Aktuell).

They have performed on some of the most prestigious concert series in the U.S. and abroad. Their appearance on the mainstage at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2015 was reviewed as “little short of sensational… astonishing… breath-taking throughout” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer).

Musica Pacifica website

Neave Piano Trio – September 17, 2019

Since forming in 2010, Neave Trio – violinist Anna Williams, cellist Mikhail Veselov, and pianist Eri Nakamura – has earned enormous praise for its engaging, cutting-­edge performances. WQXR explains, “‘Neave’ is actually a Gaelic name meaning ‘bright’ and ‘radiant’, both of which certainly apply to this trio’s music making.” The Boston Musical Intelligencer included Neave in its “Best of 2014” and “Best of 2016” roundups, writing, “it is inconceivable that they will not soon be among the busiest chamber ensembles going,” and “their unanimity, communication, variety of touch, and expressive sensibility rate first tier.”

Neave Trio strives to champion new works by living composers and reach wider audiences through innovative concert presentations, regularly collaborating with artists of all mediums. These collaborations include performances with the Blythe Barton Dance Company; projection artist Ryan Brady; the interactive concert series “STEIN2.0,” with composer Amanuel Zarzowski; Klee Musings by acclaimed American composer Augusta Read Thomas, which was premiered by Neave; the upcoming premiere of Eric Nathan’s Missing Words V, sponsored by Coretet; and an upcoming short film based on the tango music of Astor Piazzolla.

Neave Piano Trio website

REBEL – April 9, 2019

Selections by: Corelli, Vivaldi, Leclair, Handel, Fasch, and Telemann

Hailed by the New York Times as “Sophisticated and Beguiling” and praised by the Los Angeles Times for their “astonishingly vital music-making,” the award-winning, New York-based ensemble, REBEL (pronounced “Re-BEL”) is one of North America’s top-tier ensembles specializing in 17th- & 18th-century repertoire performed on period instruments.

Named after the innovative French Baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747), REBEL was formed in The Netherlands in 1991; that same year the ensemble took first prize in the Van Wassenaer International Competition in Utrecht and gave their critically-acclaimed American début in New York City in 1992.  Since then the ensemble has garnered an impressive international reputation, enchanting diverse audiences with their unique style and their virtuosic, highly expressive and provocative approach to the baroque and classical repertoire. The core formation of two violins, recorder/traverso, cello/ viola da gamba and harpsichord/ organ/ fortepiano expands with additional strings, winds, brass, theorbo and vocalists, as needed.

Arguably the most aired American baroque ensemble in the U.S. today, REBEL is regularly featured on the nationally syndicated shows Performance Today and Sunday Baroque, and has appeared several times on MPR’s St. Paul Sunday. REBEL remains the only period instrument ensemble ever to have been awarded an artists’ residency at National Public Radio, has been featured on BBC’s Radio 3 and has recorded over twenty CDs on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Dorian, Sono Luminus, ATMA, Hänssler Classic and Bridge Records.

Highlights of the 2017-’18 season include engagements in San Antonio, TX, Joplin, MO, Tulsa, OK, Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus OH and Concord, NH, and collaborations with soprano Yulia Van Doren in November 2017, and baroque dancers Thomas Baird and Paige Whitley-Bauguess in March 2018.

Telegraph Quartet – March 12, 2019

  • Mozart: String Quartet in D, K. 575 “Prussian”
  • Weinberg: Quartet No. 6 in e minor, Op. 35
  • Intermission
  • Dvorak: Quartet in E-flat, Op 51, No. 10 “Slavonic”

The Telegraph Quartet was formed in 2013 with an equal passion for the  standard chamber music repertoire as well as contemporary and non-standard repertoire, alike.  Described by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 as “…an incredibly valuable addition to the cultural landscape” and “powerfully adept… with a combination of brilliance and subtlety,” the Telegraph Quartet was most recently awarded the prestigious 2016 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award. Past prizes include the Grand Prize at the 2014 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.  The Quartet has since gone on to perform in concert halls, music festivals, and academic institutions from Los Angeles and New York to Italy and Taiwan, including Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Herbst Recital Hall and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Chamber Masters Series and at festivals including the Chautauqua Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, and the Emilia Romagna Festival.  In 2016, the Quartet was invited as one of a handful of emerging professional string quartets from around the world to perform in Paris, France at the Biennale de quatuors à cordes, a showcase for major concert presenters of Europe and Asia taking place at the Philharmonie de Paris.

The Telegraph Quartet gave its first Carnegie Hall appearance in Weill Recital Hall in 2015 along with violinist Ian Swensen and pianist Jeff LaDeur and the Quartet will return to Carnegie Hall in 2018 for its Naumburg Award Recital featuring the world premiere of Robert Sirota’s third string quartet. Notable collaborations have included projects with cellist Norman Fischer, pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the Henschel Quartett. A fervent champion of contemporary and 20th century repertoire, the Telegraph Quartet has co-commissioned John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 6, which is scheduled for its West-Coast premiere in the fall of 2017 at San Francisco State University’s Morrison Artist Series.  In 2017 the Quartet plans to release its debut album featuring works by Anton Webern, Benjamin Britten, and Leon Ki­­­rchner.

Trio Karénine – January 15, 2019

Founded in Paris in 2009, Trio Karénine bears the name of Tolstoï’s beautiful and emotionally honest heroine. The trio is lauded for its musical integrity and joie de vivre by critics and audiences alike. Top prize winner at the ARD international Competition in 2013, the ensemble has performed in major halls including Wigmore Hall in London, Salle Pleyel and Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts in Montréal, Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice, Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, and Prinzregentheater and Herkulessaal in Munich. The trio has toured Asia, both in China with the Festival Croisements, and in Japan.

In Germany, the trio received the prestigious Nordmetall-Ensemble Prize from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele in 2015 with bassist Laurène Durantel and violist Krzysztof Chorzelski. The trio also appeared in the prestigious Arte’s series Stars von Morgen, presented by Rollando Villazon. Trio Karénine received First Prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in the Netherlands, laureate of the “Joseph Haydn” Competition in Vienna, and the prestigious Banque Populaire grant. The trio was unanimously awarded the International Pro Musicis Prize in Paris, and is laureate of the Maurice Ravel Academy, and the Charles Oulmont Foundation.

Schumann Quartett – November 13, 2018

The Schumann Quartet has reached a stage where anything is possible, because it has dispensed with certainties. This also has consequences for audiences, which from one concert to the next have to be prepared for all eventualities: “A work really develops only in a live performance,” the quartet says. “That is the ‘real thing’, because we ourselves never know what will happen. On the stage, all imitation disappears, and you automatically become honest with yourself. Then you can create a bond with the audience – communicate with it in music.”

This live situation will gain an added energy in the near future: Sabine Meyer, Menahem Pressler, Albrecht Mayer, Kit Armstrong, Edgar Moreau and Anna Lucia Richter are among the quartet’s current partners. A highlight in the 17/18 season is still its three-year residency at the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center in New York City, which began back in December 2016. The quartet will go on a USA tour and give guest performances at festivals in South America, Italy and Switzerland as well as at the Mozart Week in Salzburg. It will also perform concerts in the big musical metropolises of London, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Florence and Paris. In addition, the ensemble is “artiste étoile” at the Mozartfest in Würzburg and at the “Oraniensteiner Konzerte” concert series and is looking foward once more to the two concerts it will give as part of its long-term residency at the Robert-Schumann-Saal in Düsseldorf. Its current album, LANDSCAPES, in which the quartet traces its own roots by combining works of Haydn, Bartók, Takemitsu and Pärt, has been hailed enthusiastically both at home and abroad, among other things receiving the “Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik”, five Diapasons and being selected as Editor’s Choice by the BBC Music Magazine. The Schumann Quartet was already accorded the 2016 Newcomer Award at the BBC Music Magazine Awards in London for its previous CD “Mozart Ives Verdi”.

The three brothers Mark, Erik and Ken Schumann have been playing together since their earliest childhood. In 2012, they were joined by violist Liisa Randalu, who was born in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, and grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany. Those who experience the quartet in performance often remark on the strong connection between its members. The four musicians enjoy the way they communicate without words: how a single look suffices to convey how a particular member wants to play a particular passage. Although the individual personalities clearly manifest themselves, a common space arises in every musical work in a process of spiritual metamorphosis. The quartet’s openness and curiosity may be partly the result of the formative influence exerted on it by teachers such as Eberhard Feltz, the Alban Berg Quartet, or partners such as Menahem Pressler.

Teachers and musical partners, prestigious prices, CD releases – it is always tempting to speculate on what factors have led to many people viewing the Schumann Quartet as one of the best in the world. But the four musicians themselves regard these stages more as encounters, as a confirmation of the path they have taken. They feel that their musical development over the past two years represents a quantum leap. “We really want to take things to extremes, to see how far the excitement and our spontaneity as a group take us,” says Ken Schumann, the middle of the three Schumann brothers. They charmingly sidestep any attempt to categorise their sound, approach or style, and let the concerts speak for themselves.

And the critics approve: “Fire and energy. The Schumann Quartet plays staggeringly well […] without doubt one of the very best formations among today’s abundance of quartets, […] with sparkling virtuosity and a willingness to astonish” (Harald Eggebrecht in Süddeutsche Zeitung). So there is plenty of room for adventure.