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.


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


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

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Elias String Quartet

    The Elias String Quartet has quickly established itself as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of its generation, performing and collaborating with artists around the world. The quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where the members worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne with the Alban Berg Quartet. Other mentors in the quartet's studies have included Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Henri Dutilleux, and Rainer Schmidt.

    The quartet made its North American debut in March 2012 to great critical acclaim. During its March 2015 tour, it will perform 15 concerts in 14 cities across the US and Canada. The quartet has been chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's prestigious New Generation Artists Scheme, and it is the recipient of a 2010 award from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, whose support has enabled the quartet to immerse itself in a project to learn and perform all of Beethoven's string quartets.

    The Elias String Quartet has performed alongside artists such as Michael Collins, Jonathan Biss, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Ralph Kirshbaum, Alice Neary, Ann Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Roger Vignoles, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Bernard Gregor-Smith, Ettore Causa, Timothy Boulton, Robin Ireland, Adrian Brendel, and Anthony Marwood. It has also performed with the Endellion String Quartet, Jerusalem Quartet, and Vertavo String Quartet.

    The quartet received second prize and the Sidney Griller prize at the London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 (as the Johnston String Quartet) and was a finalist in the Premio Paolo Borciani International String Quartet Competition in 2005. For four years, it was the resident string quartet at Music in the Round in Sheffield as part of Ensemble 360.

    The Elias String Quartet has released recordings that include works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Spohr on Sanctuary Classics and Nimbus Records. The quartet most recently recorded the piano quintets of Schumann and Dvořák with pianist Jonathan Biss, available on the Onyx label. A recording of Haydn and Schumann quartets was released in spring 2012 on the Wigmore Hall Live label, and the ensemble's previous recording on that label-a disc of music by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert-received the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award in April 2010.

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

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. 
Program Notes
This performance is part of Quartets Plus.

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