Montréal 2017

Miró Quartet serves up classic program in opening concert of MISQA series

The McGill International String Quartet Academy brings together “junior” and “senior” quartets in residence at McGill, where they are improved and improve each other through master classes and private lessons with international faculty.

The concert series is unique — a total immersion in the quartet tradition — and there’s no better way to find out what kinds of performers and composers you don’t like. It’s free, too. This year, the sixth edition runs until Aug. 22 and it presents eight quartets chosen from 24 applicants for the four senior and four junior spots; seniors get individual concerts Aug. 13, 14, 20 and 21 while the babies share matinees Aug. 15 and 22 (they fall asleep so early). Invited guests perform at the opening and closing concerts. 

Last Sunday, we heard Austin’s Miró Quartet, and on Aug. 22 it will be the Parker Quartet for Mendelssohn, Brahms and the only piece by a living composer, Tan Dun’s Eight Colors for String Quartet, written in 1986. The Miró played a classic program of Schubert and Beethoven, but most of the upcoming concerts offer slightly more contrast. Concerts on Aug. 13 (Janáček and Mozart) and 14 (Ligeti and Bartók) are recommended; these programs should provoke the young quartets, which means a more interesting time for you. But some new music would be nice next year. 

Today’s working quartet can’t expect to only play the greats. The Miró made Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 and Beethoven’s Quartet No. 14 Op. 131 sound suspiciously like bouncing twins. Mystery and often, subtlety, were traded for exuberance. I found the bargain unconvincing, but the evening flew by. The Miró can sound like a much younger quartet, which is remarkable when their magnificent tone is obviously too rich for that to be true. The first movement of the Schubert began brilliantly; it had a fatal energy like the mind of a driver before he takes the car through the guardrail. Then self-conscious dramatics took over. The Andante had its floating moments, but the rest dissolved from the constant agitation. Schubert’s lyricism comes from Vienna, not Bavaria. It needs less beer hall and more coffee house. 

The Beethoven was better. It is one of his greatest and strangest quartets, a resistant work that changes character through seven continuous movements, though it ends with characteristic and emphatic resolve. The Miró played the opening fugue with sudden and appropriate reverence, and a more attentive character emerged through the first third. Of the late quartets, I prefer the slightly insane Op. 133, but this one has many moments of surprise, toying passages like musical games. By the Presto, however, excitement had returned to conquer. Scampering motifs turned thunderous. 

The Miró even pluck like football players, as is their right. Perhaps it’s the Texan way. Call 514-550-8057 or email reservations@misqa.com for free tickets and more information. Concerts are at 7 p.m. and master classes run most days at 2 p.m. They are much better than lectures to hear musicians try to talk about music.

Lev Bratishenko / The Gazette

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Miraculeux Van Kuijk

Selon la tradition de l'Académie internationale de quatuor à cordes de McGill, chaque concert réunit deux ensembles et chaque ensemble présente deux oeuvres - exceptionnellement une seule pour des raisons de minutage, ce qui sera le cas la semaine prochaine. 

Hier soir, où c'était salle comble encore une fois, on écoutait d'abord le Quatuor Omer, des États-Unis, ensuite le Quatuor Van Kuijk, de France. Chaque groupe avait programmé un Haydn, cette musique de la transparence s'imposant, pour ainsi dire, dans un tel contexte pédagogique et compétitif. Chaque quatuor entendu fait partie d'un groupe de six composés à une quinzaine d'années d'intervalle, soit le deuxième de l'opus 20 et le premier de l'opus 50. Bien qu'il ne s'agisse pas d'oeuvres de mérite égal et que l'op. 50 no 1 éclipse l'autre par sa hardiesse, il reste possible d'établir une comparaison entre les deux ensembles puisque ceux-ci traduisent des pages qui portent la même signature. 

Les musiciens du Quatuor Omer ne sont pas mauvais, loin de là. Et pourtant, leur Haydn découvre des attaques agressives et, conséquemment, un son envahissant et pas très beau. Tout à l'opposé, le Van Kuijk séduit immédiatement par une articulation parfaitement nette, une conversation à quatre toujours musicale et toujours équilibrée, une riche qualité de son et une justesse absolue. Faiblesses et vertus seront d'ailleurs confirmées après ces Haydn qui ne pardonnent pas. Le Omer a choisi le premier Quatuor de Janacek, sous-titré Sonate à Kreutzer et inspiré du roman de Tolstoï où une femme est tuée par le mari qu'elle trompait avec un violoniste. 

D'où cette surabondance de «sul ponticello» vitreux, que les jeunes Américains traduisent avec puissance, mais sans le caractère voulu. Nous sommes ici très loin des Prazak et quelques autres. Concernant l'unique Quatuor de Debussy, le Van Kuijk l'avait joué à sa première visite à l'Académie en 2013. Nous savons que le violoncelliste était différent, mais nous avons tout oublié de cette première interprétation. Peu importe. Ce que nous avons entendu cette fois était du plus extraordinaire niveau technique et musical. Le Van Kuijk passait miraculeusement d'un Haydn pleinement sonore à un Debussy pleinement sonore, tout en respectant les caractéristiques de chacun.

Claude Gingras

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McGill: fin de quatuor

La sixième Académie internationale de quatuor à cordes de McGill se termine cette semaine avec, s'ajoutant aux master-classes et cours privés, trois concerts à 19h, à Pollack Hall, tous gratuits. Les quatre jeunes quatuors entendus la semaine dernière reviennent au programme et, selon la tradition de l'Académie, très exactement sept jours plus tard, mais en ordre inverse. C'est-à-dire que l'ensemble qui passait en premier jeudi dernier passe en second ce jeudi, et ainsi de suite. Jeudi, le Van Kuijk, de France, jouera le bref Langsamer Satz de Webern et le Quatuor op. 41 no 1 de Schumann. Le Omer, des États-Unis, suivra avec une seule oeuvre: le long op. 132 de Beethoven. Détails inconnus du public: le Van Kuijk a choisi un programme relativement bref, car il doit s'envoler le même soir pour Copenhague où il se produira le lendemain. 

Par ailleurs, il a été approché par l'Académie pour donner le traditionnel concert de clôture de l'Académie de 2017. Les amateurs de quatuor sont donc rassurés pour au moins deux ans! Pour revenir à la présente semaine: vendredi, on retrouvera, dans cet ordre inversé, le Amber, de Chine, et le Verona, étiqueté «Singapour, États-Unis, Canada». Le Amber jouera le touchant Crisantemi de Puccini et l'ultime Quatuor de Mendelssohn, op. 80, après quoi le Verona, l'une des révélations de la semaine dernière, consacrera sa prestation au Quatuor D. 810 de Schubert dont un mouvement est constitué de cinq variations sur le lied Der Tod und das Mädchen (ou La jeune fille et la mort, selon la formule française). 

Pour le concert de clôture, samedi, l'Académie a invité le Quatuor Parker, de Boston. Son programme: op. 44 no 1 de Mendelssohn, op. 67 de Brahms et Eight Colors du Chinois Tan Dun.

Claude Gingras

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The Chamber Music Society is pleased to announce the appointment of the Calidore String Quartet, and the Schumann Quartet.

New York, March 31, 2015. The Chamber Music Society is pleased to announce the appointment of two outstanding young ensembles, the Calidore String Quartet, and the Schumann Quartet, to its prestigious CMS Two program beginning with the 2016-2017 season. 

Chosen from an international pool of applicants by a distinguished panel of performers, educators, and artistic administrators, each quartet is an award-winning ensemble with exceptional musical training and significant careers. 

Appointment to the three-year CMS Two residency program affords the young members of these quartets three full seasons of potential opportunities to participate in all facets of CMS activity, such as CMS’s various New York concert series, touring, recordings on both the in-house CMS Studio Recordings label and the CMS Live! digital download series, concert broadcasts on CMS’s 52-week syndicated radio series and American Public Media’s Performance Today, television broadcasts on Live From Lincoln Center, and numerous educational outreach programs. 

The depth of involvement reflects the commitment of CMS, under the leadership of artistic directors David Finckel and Wu Han, to nurture the careers of the finest young chamber musicians, and the foster an intergenerational roster of talent. Described as “a miracle of unified thought” (La Presse, Montreal) and as "four highly intelligent, deeply sensitive virtuosos" (Strings Magazine), the Calidore String Quartet has established an international reputation for its informed, polished, and captivating performances. 

Within two years of its formation in 2010 at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, the Calidore String Quartet won grand prizes in virtually all the major American chamber music competitions, including the Fischoff, Coleman, Chesapeake, and Yellow Springs competitions and captured top prizes at the 2012 ARD Munich International String Quartet Competition, and Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition. 

The Calidore String Quartet performs throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has debuted in such prestigious venues and festivals as Verbier, Ravinia, Wigmore Hall, Lincoln Center, Seoul’s Kumho Arts Hall and the Schneider Concert Series in New York City. 

In 2014, the Calidore were selected by the Emerson Quartet to become artists-in-residence and visiting faculty at Stony Brook University (SUNY), where they are privileged to be mentored by the Emerson Quartet and cellist David Finckel. Highlights of the quartet’s 2014-15 season included debuts at Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, a year-long residency as the Stiefel Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center (NY), Shriver Hall (Baltimore), Phillips Collection (Washington D.C), the National Arts Center (Ottawa), Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, East Neuk Festival (UK), Festspiele Mecklenburg- Vorpommern and Rheingau Festival (Germany). 

Summer 2014 marked the Calidore String Quartet's inaugural season as the quartet-in-residence at the Bellingham Festival of Music (WA) and the Innsbrook Institute Summer Music Academy and Festival (MO). In February 2015, the Calidore String Quartet released its debut recording of quartets by Mendelssohn and Haydn. 

Additionally, the Calidore will release an album on Editions Hortus later this year with music by Hindemith, Milhaud, Stravinsky, de la Presle and Toch commemorating the World War I Centennial. The Calidore was featured as Young Artists-in- Residence on American Public Media's Performance Today, and its performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Korean Broadcasting Corporation, Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich), Norddeutscher Rundfunk (Hamburg), and on German national television as part of a documentary produced by ARD public broadcasting. 

As advocates of contemporary music, the Calidore String Quartet performs Pulitzer-prize- winning composer Caroline Shaw's "Entr'acte" in concerts throughout the 2014-15 season in New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. In summer 2015, the Calidore premiers a string quartet by Patrick Harlin, commissioned by the Caramoor Center, as well as a new work by Mark Grey, commissioned by the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival. 

The Calidore String Quartet has collaborated with many esteemed artists and ensembles, including Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Joshua Bell, Paul Coletti and Quatuor Ebéne, among others. In 2014, the Calidore String Quartet joined the class of Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet) at the Reina Sofia School in Madrid. Additionally, they participated in masterclasses with the Artemis Quartet, Gerhard Schulz and Heime Müller in Weikersheim, Germany (Jeunesse Musicales). 

Calidore has studied closely with such luminaries as Andre Roy, Arnold Steinhardt, Guillaume Sutre, Martin Beaver, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Paul Coletti, Ronald Leonard, the Quatuor Ebène, the Emerson Quartet and David Finckel. As a passionate supporter of music education, the Calidore String Quartet is deeply committed to mentoring and educating young musicians, students and audiences. 

In February 2015, the Calidore String Quartet conducted a residency at the University of Michigan School of Music, as well as at Chamber Music Connection in Columbus, Ohio. In January 2014, the Calidore joined the faculty of the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute at the Colburn School. Most recently, the Calidore was selected by the Saint Lawrence String Quartet to conduct a two-week outreach residency of over twenty performances in the San Francisco Area. 

Using an amalgamation of “California” and “doré” (French for “golden”), the ensemble’s name represents a reverence for the diversity of culture and the strong support it received from its home of origin, Los Angeles, California, the “golden state.” The Calidore String Quartet aims to present performances that share the passion and joy of the string quartet chamber music repertoire. 

"The Schumann Quartet impresses with almost effortless, world-class virtuosity. Together, they create a very special force, and they inspire each other as well as the audience. I am convinced that this ensemble's future is bright, and that they will continue to delight their audiences," writes Harald Eggebrecht, music critic of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, about the Schumann Quartet. The members of the ensemble, brothers Erik, Ken, and Mark Schumann, along with Estonian violist Liisa Randalu, have impressed audiences worldwide ever since winning the renowned Concours de Bordeaux in May 2013. 

Critics have praised their “high emotional intelligence” and “supreme technical accomplishment,” declaring “the future belongs to them.” Founded in 2007 in Cologne, and in its current formation since 2012, the Schumann Quartet attracted much attention early on. The ensemble is a prize winner of such international competitions as the Premio Paolo Borciani in Italy and the Osaka International Music Competition in Japan, and winner of the Schubert and Modern Music Competition in Graz, Austria in 2012. 

Among the ensemble’s formative experiences were its studies with the Alban Berg Quartet in Cologne and with Günther Pichler at the Escuela Superior de Reina Sofia in Madrid. Chamber music instruction from the Cherubini Quartet’s Harald Schoneweg was an important source of inspiration during the quartet’s early days, as was artistic collaboration with Eberhard Feltz. 

Among the ensemble’s chamber music partners are renowned artists such as Menahem Pressler, Henri Sigfridsson, Sabine Meyer, Nils Mönkemeyer, Diemut Poppen, Nicolas Altstaedt and David Orlowsky. Beginning with the 2009-2010 season, the Schumann Quartet has been artist in residence at the “Erstklassik” concert series at the Robert Schumann-Saal in Düsseldorf. 

The Schumann Quartet has made numerous live recordings with broadcasters such as WDR, SWR and Radio France. Its debut recording with works by Beethoven, Bartók and Brahms was released in April 2013 to great critical acclaim. The second CD with works by Mozart, Ives and Verdi was released in January 2015 and has been greeted with enthusiastic reviews. 

The Schumann Quartet is supported by the Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz Foundation and by the Irene Steels-Wilsing Foundation. In February 2014, the Jürgen Ponto Foundation awarded its Music Prize for String Quartet to the Schumann Quartet. In the 2015-2016 season, the ensemble will hold a residency at the Schloss Esterhazy, which includes concerts and the world premiere of a work commissioned for the Quartet. 

The Calidore String Quartet and the Schumann Quartet are continuing CMS’s distinguished lineage of CMS Two ensembles, which include: Amphion String Quartet (2013-16) Danish String Quartet (2013-16) Escher String Quartet (2007-10) Jupiter String Quartet (2007-10) Daedalus Quartet (2005-07) Imani Winds (2003-05) Pacifica Quartet (2003-05) Miró String Quartet (2001-03) Miami String Quartet (1999-01) Borromeo String Quartet (1997-99) Brentano String Quartet (1995-97).

MISQA Presse Release

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The Calidore String Quartet Releases Debut Album

Recording features works by Haydn and Mendelssohn 
On February 3, 2015, the Calidore String Quartet, artists-in-residence at Stony Brook University, releases their debut album. The recording features Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13 and Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 76, No. 3, "Emperor.”
 
The Mendelssohn string quartet holds particular meaning for Calidore. “When performing the Mendelssohn quartet, we feel the energy and spirit of his writing come to life,” stated the Calidore String Quartet. 

“None of us will ever forget the moment we read through it in one of our very first rehearsals, and we are extremely excited to feature it on our first album!”
 
This recording of “Emperor” Quartet by Haydn shows the foundation and breadth of their musical voice. “Haydn begins the quartet with four distinct fragments with completely different characters and emotions, and in this way the four statements in the opening serve as a metaphor for us,” stated Calidore. 

“We are four individuals with unique musical voices, but when the music calls for a spirited virtuosic union or a solemn chorale we must meld our spirits into one.”
 
The Calidore String Quartet debut album produced by Colburn School is made possible thanks to underwriters Sam and Lyndie Ersan.
 


Please visit www.calidorestringquartet.com for more information on the Calidore String Quartet.

MISQA Presse Release

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The Parker String Quartet will close the 6th Edition of MISQA.

Rendez-vous: Pollack Hall - 7pm - August 22nd / 2015. Formed in 2002, the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. The New York Times has hailed the quartet as “something extraordinary,” the Washington Post has described them as having “exceptional virtuosity [and] imaginative interpretation,” and the Boston Globe acclaims their “pinpoint precision and spectacular sense of urgency.” The quartet began touring on the international circuit after winning the Concert Artists Guild Competition as well as the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at the Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition in France. Chamber Music America awarded the quartet the prestigious biennial Cleveland Quartet Award for the 2009–2011 seasons. 

The Parker Quartet recently joined the faculty of Harvard University’s Department of Music as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence. Highlights of the 2014–2015 season include the project Schubert Effect in collaboration with Shai Wosner at the 92nd Street Y, the premiere of a new string quartet by Augusta Read Thomas as part of the quartet’s four-concert series at Harvard University, and return engagements at Wigmore Hall and Music at Amherst. The Quartet also continues to be a strong supporter of Kim Kashkashian’s project Music for Food by participating in concerts throughout the Boston area for the benefit of the Boston Food Bank. Performance highlights from recent seasons include appearances at Carnegie Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Library of Congress, the Slee Series in Buffalo, Music Toronto, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Monte Carlo Spring Festival, Seoul Arts Center, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festspiele in Germany, and San Miguel de Allende Festival in Mexico. 

The quartet has recently collaborated with artists including Kim Kashkashian, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Anne- Marie McDermott, Shai Wosner, Kikuei Ikeda of the Tokyo Quartet, Jörg Widmann, and Claron McFaddon. In 2012 the Parker Quartet was the recipient of a Chamber Music America commissioning grant, enabling the ensemble to commission and premiere Capriccio, an hour-length work by American composer Jeremy Gill. Successful early concert touring in Europe helped the quartet forge a relationship with Zig-Zag Territoires, which released their debut commercial recording of Bartók’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 in July 2007. 

The disc earned high praise from numerous critics, including 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.” The quartet’s second recording, György Ligeti’s complete works for string quartet, was released on Naxos in December 2009 to critical acclaim. This recording won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. They are the last string quartet to have won this category. The Quartet was founded and is currently based in Boston. In addition to their full-time residency at Harvard, they will continue its visiting residency at the University of South Carolina. From 2008 to 2013, the quartet spent much of its time in St. Paul, MN, where they served as Quartet-in-Residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (2008–2010), were the first-ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio (2009–2010), visiting artists at the University of Minnesota (2011–2012), and Artists-in-Residence at the University of St. Thomas (2012–2014). The Parker Quartet’s members hold graduate degrees in performance and chamber music from the New England Conservatory of Music and were part of the New England Conservatory’s prestigious Professional String Quartet Training Program from 2006–2008. Some of their most influential mentors include the Cleveland Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, György Kurtág, and Rainer Schmidt.

MISQA Presse Release

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The Miró String Quartet will open the 6th Edition of MISQA.

Rendez-vous: Pollack Hall - 7pm - August 9th/ 2015. Now in their 18th year, the Miró Quartet is consistently praised for their deeply musical interpretations, exciting performances, and thoughtful programming. Each season, the Miró Quartet performs throughout the world on the most important chamber music series and on the most prestigious concert stages, garnering accolades from critics and audiences alike. Of a recent performance, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote: “Throughout the concert, the Miró gave lessons in the art of the string quartet, shaping each of the night’s scores with a blend of refinement and vibrancy that drew the listener deeply inside the sonic arguments.”

Concert highlights of recent seasons include a highly anticipated and sold out return to Carnegie Hall to perform Beethoven’s complete Opus 59 Quartets (which they also recorded); collaborations with award-winning actor Stephen Dillane as part of Lincoln Center’s White Lights Festival; and festival appearances at Chamber Music Northwest, Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, and Ottawa ChamberFest.

MISQA Presse Release

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