CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

Performance Monday, March 16, 2015 | 7:30 PM

Elias String Quartet

Weill Recital Hall
The Sunday Times (London) said the members of the Elias String Quartet “make a beautiful sound, burnished yet translucent, and play with vigor and subtlety.” Beethoven’s “Serioso” Quartet, written while the composer was besieged by personal problems, finds joy in its finale. The String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135, has episodes of Haydn-like humor, a gorgeous set of variations, and closes with an enigmatic musical discussion. The String Quartet in C-sharp Minor opens with a complex fugue, and then journeys through a world of changing moods in seven continuous movements.

Part of Salon Encores.

Performers

  • Elias String Quartet
    ·· Sara Bitlloch, Violin
    ·· Donald Grant, Violin
    ·· Martin Saving, Viola
    ·· Marie Bitlloch, Cello

Program

ALL-BEETHOVEN PROGRAM
  • String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, "Serioso"
  • String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135
  • String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131

Audio

Beethoven's String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132 (Molto adagio—Andante)
Cleveland Quartet
Telarc

At a Glance

The 16 string quartets that Beethoven composed between 1798 and 1826 constitute a towering achievement that has both inspired and intimidated composers for two centuries. Schumann, whose own quartets are deeply indebted to Beethoven’s, declared that the genre had “come to a standstill” after Beethoven’s death. In Schumann’s opinion, he and his contemporaries had proven incapable of producing anything of comparable quality.

Despite the lucid classicism of Beethoven’s early Op. 18 quartets, a contemporary critic described them as “very difficult to perform and not at all popular.” The weightier, more contrapuntal style of the middle-period quartets—the three “Razumovskys,” Op. 59; the “Harp,” Op. 74; and “Serioso,” Op. 95—provoked even more bewildered reactions. Most challenging of all, for performers and listeners alike, were the knotty, inward-looking masterpieces that Beethoven composed between the summer of 1824 and the autumn of 1826. Having toiled mightily to bring the Missa solemnis and the Ninth Symphony to completion in the early 1820s, the composer returned to the intimate chamber-music medium that had occupied him so fruitfully at the outset of his career.

Whether or not Beethoven made a conscious decision to devote his final years almost exclusively to writing string quartets, there is little doubt that he regarded his last five—opp. 127, 130, 131, 132, and 135, plus the Große Fuge, Op. 133—as the capstone of his life’s work. 
This performance is part of Quartets Plus.

Part of