Acclaimed Ensemble's Concert Program Plays to its Strengths
Middlebury, VT—Having gained an enviable reputation as one of the leading quartets of the new generation, the Belcea Quartet continues to take the international chamber-music circuit by storm, consistently receiving critical acclaim for its performances. Following exhilarating performances for the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series in 2004 and 2006, the quartet returns to play Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132, andSchubert’s String Quartet No. 15 in G Major on Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 P.M. at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall.
The Guardian hails the Belcea Quartet as “a world-class ensemble…,” calling their performances “…expressive, well-defined, multi-dimensional and irresistibly dynamic and compelling.” The Quartet was established at the Royal College of Music in 1994 by Romanian violinist Corina Belcea, who was joined in 1996 by Polish violist Krzysztof Chorzelski, then French cellist Antoine Lederlin in 2006, and most recently, by 29 year old French/Swiss violinist Axel Schacher this season.
The March 24 program includes a piece that will highlight the ensemble’s strengths: the Schubert G Major quartet. San Francisco Classical Voice remarked of the Belcea’s performance of this work, “This is a quartet whose disarmingly easy manner masks an out-of-the-ordinary interpretive strength of purpose.... The strange thing is that it was possible to feel the enormous, even frantic contrasts in the playing while still marveling at the integrity of the interpretation as a whole... Try to do justice to the variety of its material, and this piece has a tendency to spin itself apart...Attempt to keep a firm handle on its central direction, on the other hand, and you’re almost bound to slight some aspect of it. The Belceas walked that tightrope as well as I’ve ever seen it done...”
The Belcea Quartet possesses an impressive discography. The Quartet won the Gramophone Award for best debut recording in 2001. Their recordings for the EMI label include Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson with Ian Bostridge; Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Thomas Adès and Corin Long; a double disc of Britten’s string quartets, which won a MIDEM Cannes Award; Mozart’s “Dissonance” and “Hoffmeister” quartets; and the complete Bartók quartets, for which the Quartet was awarded the title Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year by Germany’s prestigious Echo Klassik Awards, and was nominated for a 2008 Gramophone Award. Their most recent release, a double disc of the late Schubert Quartets and the String Quintet with Valentin Erben, was nominated for another Gramophone Award.
In the 2010/11 season, the Belcea Quartet will give the world premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s new work for string quartet, Twisted Blues with Twisted Ballad, at Wigmore Hall, Cologne Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Vienna Konzerthaus. In May 2011, they will curate their own “Beethoven & Schubert: Final Years” project with concerts in Aldeburgh, the Gulbenkian Grand Auditorium, and Philharmonie Luxembourg, collaborating with Imogen Cooper, Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore, Julius Drake, and Valentin Erben. In late 2011, the Quartet will embark on an ambitious survey of the complete string quartets by Beethoven with cycles of concerts planned in the UK, Germany, Austria, Sweden, and the U.S.
Currently Quartet in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, the Belcea Quartet also became Ensemble in Residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus at the beginning of the 2010/11 season.
Tickets for the Belcea Quartet’s March 24 performance are $24, with discounts available for Middlebury College students, alumni, faculty, and staff. For tickets or information, contact the Middlebury College Box Office at http://go.middlebury.edu/tickets or 802-443-6433.