Brentano String Quartet
Friday, April 8, 2022 | 7:30 PM
Hannaford Hall, USM | Portland
Celebrating their 30th anniversary season, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism.” Program will include works by George Walker (first African American winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music), Mozart’s Viola Quintet in C Minor joined by Artistic Director Melissa Reardon, and Schubert’s final string quartet, the monumental No. 15 in G Major.
George Walker Molto adagio from String Quartet No. 1 (1946)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Viola Quintet in C Minor, K. 406/516b (1787)
Menuetto in canone & Trio in canone al roverscio
Melissa Reardon, viola
Franz Schubert String Quartet in G Major, Op. 161, D. 887 (1826)
Doors open at 7:00 PM. Program run time is just over 90 minutes, including a brief intermission. Immediately following the concert there will be a Q&A with the artists.
COVID Precautions: Please note that proof of vaccination is required to attend the concert, and properly fitted masks must be worn by all patrons at all times. On the day of the performance, if you feel ill or are recording a temperature, please stay at home. We will gladly exchange your tickets for another show.
Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism.”
Within a few years of its formation, the Quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and was also honored in the U.K. with the Royal Philharmonic Award for Most Outstanding Debut. Since then, the Quartet has concertized widely, performing in the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington; the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; the Konzerthaus in Vienna; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the Sydney Opera House.
In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet
maintains a strong interest in contemporary music, and has commissioned many new works. Their latest project, a monodrama for quartet and voice called “Dido Reimagined,” was composed by Pulitzer-winning composer Melinda Wagner and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, and will premiere in spring 2022 with soprano Dawn Upshaw. Other recent commissions include the composers Matthew Aucoin, Lei Liang, Vijay Iyer, James Macmillan, and a cello quintet by Steven Mackey (with Wilhelmina Smith, cello.)
The Brentano Quartet has worked closely with other important composers of our time, among them Elliot Carter,
Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. They have also been privileged to collaborate with such artists as soprano Jessye Norman, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and pianists Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, and Mitsuko Uchida. The Quartet has recorded works by Mozart and Schubert for Azica Records, and all of Beethoven’s late Quartets for the Aeon label. In 2012, they provided the central music (Beethoven Opus 131) for the critically- acclaimed independent film A Late Quartet.
Since 2014, the Brentano Quartet has served as Artists-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music. They were formerly the Ensemble-in-Residence at Princeton University, and were twice invited to be the collaborative ensemble for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
The Quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved”, the intended recipient of his famous love confession.
Meet The Composers
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Born in Salzburg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Despite his short life, his rapid pace of composition resulted in more than 800 works of virtually every genre of his time. Many of these compositions are acknowledged as pinnacles of the symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral repertoire.
Unlike his other string quintets, the Quintet No. 2 in C Minor, K. 406 was not originally written for strings. It is in fact an arrangement of his Serenade No. 12 for Winds in C Minor, written 4-5 years earlier. Since the wind serenade used pairs of oboes and clarinets, it was a straightforward matter to map these to the pairs of violins and violas.
Franz Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, he left behind a vast catalog, including more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music, and a large body of piano and chamber music. Appreciation of Schubert's music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased greatly in the decades following his death.
Schubert's epic String Quartet No. 15 in G Major was the composer's final quartet, written in ten days and published posthumously in 1826.
George Walker, an American composer, pianist, and organist, was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He published over 90 works and received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and many other ensembles. He was the recipient of six honorary doctoral degrees.
Walker's first string quartet was composed in 1946 after his graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music. The second movement would later become the basis of his most popular work, Lyric for Strings, dedicated to the composer's grandmother who was a formerly enslaved person.