·· Lukas Hagen, Violin
·· Rainer Schmidt, Violin
·· Veronika Hagen, Viola
·· Clemens Hagen, Cello
Kirill Gerstein, Piano
BEETHOVEN String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
BARTÓK String Quartet No. 3
BRAHMS Piano Quintet
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN String Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2
In his six Op. 18 quartets, Beethoven staked his claim to the title of Haydn’s and Mozart’s successor in the rarefied realm of the string quartet. Indeed, the G-Major Quartet all but challenges Haydn on his own turf, with its mixture of Classical formality and rambunctious high spirits. It may have been this blithe disregard of convention that led a contemporary critic to describe the Op. 18 quartets as “very difficult to perform and not at all popular”—a judgment that posterity has overturned.
BÉLA BARTÓK String Quartet No. 3
Composed in the summer of 1927, the third of Bartók’s six quartets was influenced by the imaginatively colored sound world of Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite, which the Hungarian had heard in Vienna earlier that year. What Theodor Adorno called the quartet’s “iron concentration” and “wholly original tectonics” are reflected in its highly compressed form.
JOHANNES BRAHMS Piano Quintet in
F Minor, Op. 34
Originally conceived as a string quintet and later adapted for two pianos, Brahms’s masterpiece represents a near-perfect marriage of keyboard and strings. Only after Clara Schumann observed that the music was “so full of ideas” that a full orchestra was needed to do it justice did Brahms recast it as a piano quintet. In this form, musicologist Sir Donald Francis Tovey wrote, “the rhythmic incisiveness of the piano is happily combined with the singing powers of the bowed instruments.”
The unprecedented three-decade career of the Hagen Quartet began in 1981. Its early years, marked by a series of prizes in chamber music competitions and an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon that produced nearly 45 CDs, enabled the group to work its way through the virtually unlimited quartet repertoire from which its distinctive profile has emerged. Collaborations with artistic personalities such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt and György Kurtág are as important to the Hagen Quartet as its concert appearances with performers such as Maurizio Pollini, Mitsuko Uchida, Sabine Meyer, Krystian Zimerman, Heinrich Schiff, and Jörg Widmann. This season, the quartet highlights Haydn's Op. 76 quartets, and performs at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Tokyo's Toppan Hall, Vienna's Konzerthaus, Florence's Teatro della Pergola, and the opening of the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin. The quartet also gives the long-awaited premiere of Jörg Widmann's Clarinet Quintet in Madrid and performs with the Kölner Philharmonie.
In 2011, the Hagen Quartet celebrated its 30th anniversary with two recordings released on Myrios Classics of works by Mozart, Webern, Beethoven, and Grieg, as well as the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with Jörg Widmann.The quartet received the prestigious ECHO Klassik award for Ensemble of the Year in 2011; in 2012, the quartet was named an honorary member of Vienna's Konzerthaus. The Hagen Quartet'srecent recording of Mozart's string quartets K. 387 and K. 458 was recognized with a Diapason d'Or, Choc de Classica, andECHOKlassik.
The group's concert repertoire and discography features attractive and intelligently arranged programs that embrace the entire history of the string quartet, from its pre-Haydn beginnings through to Kurtág. The Hagen Quartet also works closely with composers of its own generation, whether by reviving existing works or by commissioning and premiering new pieces. Since mid-2013, the Hagen Quartet has been performing on instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, known as the "Paganini" quartet, generously on loan by the Nippon Music Foundation.
Pianist Kirill Gerstein is one of today's most intriguing and versatile musicians, with a masterful technique, discerning intelligence, and a musical curiosity that has led him to explore repertoire that spans centuries and a diverse range of styles. He is the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award and received first prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv.
Highlights of Mr. Gerstein's US season include concerto performances with The Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, New Jersey, and San Diego symphony orchestras. He also performs works by Busoni, Gershwin, Rachmaninoff, and Schoenberg, among others. With the New York Philharmonic last month, he performed Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto in the composer's own 1879 version of the score, marking its New York premiere. In 2015, he won an ECHO Klassik award for his world-premiere recording of this edition with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, and in August 2016, he gave the US premiere with the Grant Park Orchestra. In recital this season, Mr. Gerstein performs Liszt's complete Transcendental Etudes in Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, DC. He last appeared at Zankel Hall in a performance of the entire cycle, along with works by Bach and Bartók. His recent recording of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes was released by Myrios Classics in September of last year.
Mr. Gerstein reunites with the Hagen Quartet in the Brahms Piano Quintet after a 2014 performance of the work in Austria. He has performed more recently with cellist Clemens Hagen in a range of chamber repertoire, especially the works of Beethoven.
Born in Voronezh, Russia, Mr. Gerstein attended a music school for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents' extensive record collection. He came to the US at the age of 14 to attend Boston's Berklee College of Music and, after completing his studies in three years, moved to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the US and Germany.