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Kuss Quartet

Friday, March 24, 2017 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
An award-winning ensemble, the Kuss Quartet is known for its zest for experimentation. Whether shining new light on a beloved classic by revealing the qualities that made it groundbreaking in its day, or premiering new music, the ensemble is constantly expanding the boundaries of the string quartet.

Part of Salon Encores.


Kuss Quartet
·· Jana Kuss, Violin
·· Oliver Wille, Violin
·· William Coleman, Viola
·· Mikayel Hakhnazaryan, Cello


HAYDN Selections from The Seven Last Words of Christ
·· Introduction and Sonata I
·· Sonata V
·· Il terremoto

HARRISON BIRTWISTLE Selections from Pulse Shadows
·· Frieze 2
·· Fantastia 3
·· Frieze 1

THOMAS ADÈS Selections from Arcadiana for String Quartet, Op. 12
·· O Albion
·· Lethe

BEETHOVEN String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132


TCHAIKOVSKY "Sweet Dreams," Op. 39, No. 21

TCHAIKOVSKY "Old French Song," Op. 39, No. 16

Event Duration

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

At a Glance

JOSEPH HAYDN  Selections from The Seven Last Words of Christ

Conceived as a set of short orchestral pieces to accompany the Holy Week liturgy, The Seven Last Words proved so popular that Haydn recast his work as a string quartet, piano piece, and oratorio. These excerpts attest to the composer’s genius for scene- and text-painting, which would later come to fruition in his great oratorios The Creation and The Seasons.

HARRISON BIRTWISTLE  Selections from Pulse Shadows

Still going strong in his 80s, Sir Harrison Birtwistle is among the most prominent ambassadors of Britain’s lively musical avant garde. Pulse Shadows, an unconventional hybrid of string quartet and song cycle, demonstrates his longstanding preoccupation with complex rhythms, multilayered textures, and flexible formal structures.

THOMAS ADÈS  Selections from Arcadiana for String Quartet, Op. 12

Like his teacher, György Kurtág, British composer Thomas Adès has a penchant for delicately tinted, distinctly contoured, and richly evocative soundscapes. Arcadiana—the first of his two string quartets—uses harmonics, glissandos, quarter-tones, and other special sonic effects to depict a gauzy pastoral world that is by turns idyllic and nightmarish.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132

Beethoven’s Op. 132, the second of three quartets commissioned by Russian Prince Nikolai Golitsïn, centers on its transcendently beautiful slow movement, a deeply felt “song of thanksgiving” for the composer’s recovery from illness. Like many of Beethoven’s “late” works, the A-Minor Quartet expresses spiritual struggle through extreme contrasts of mood.


Kuss Quartet

With its unique approach to music making, the Kuss Quartet ranks among the world's most renowned ensembles. Since its founding in 2002 by violinists Jana Kuss and Oliver Wille, the ensemble has developed its passion for experimentation, revealing new musical ...

With its unique approach to music making, the Kuss Quartet ranks among the world's most renowned ensembles. Since its founding in 2002 by violinists Jana Kuss and Oliver Wille, the ensemble has developed its passion for experimentation, revealing new musical perspectives and attracting a wide-ranging audience.

The ensemble's classical lounge series, Kuss Plus, has made its mark on the Berlin music scene. The quartet is also known for boundary-breaking concerts that combine compositions for quartet with works of literature. Regular collaborations between the quartet and renowned actor Udo Samel have led to invitations to perform at festivals and concert halls in Germany and Austria, with programs such as Ohne Grund nicht denken (Brecht/Berg/ Beethoven), Traumbilder (Heine/Mendelssohn/Schumann), and Das Rauschen der Zeit (Mandelstam/Stravinsky/Tchaikovsky).

In 2002, the Kuss Quartet was awarded first prize in the Borciani competition by the German Music Council. The following year, it won the Borletti-Buitoni Award and was selected for the European Concert Hall Organization's Rising Stars program.

The quartet's international engagements have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, London's Wigmore Hall, and Berlin's Philharmonie, as well as at major festivals that include the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Beethovenfest Bonn, Rheingau Musik Festival, and the Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals. In addition, the ensemble has toured throughout the US, Australia, South America, and Japan.

The Kuss Quartet inspires the next generation of chamber musicians in numerous international master classes. Violist William Coleman and violinist Oliver Wille hold professorships at music colleges in Salzburg, Hannover, and Birmingham.

The quartet's repertoire ranges from music of the Renaissance to contemporary compositions by Helmut Lachenmann and György Kurtág. As a result of a grant from the state of Lower Saxony, over the next four years the quartet will commission new works by composers who include Aribert Reimann and Enno Poppe.

Following the success of the quartet's album Bridges (Sony Classical), English label Onyx Classics released the highly acclaimed concept CD Thème Russe in January 2012, with works and transcriptions by composers who included Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Schnittke. In November 2013, a third disc was released by Onyx Classics, featuring Schubert's String Quintet with cellist Miklós Perényi. Three years later, the label released a new disc with Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, Brahms's Third String Quartet, and Brahms lieder for soprano and string quartet arranged especially for the ensemble with Mojca Erdmann. The Kuss Quartet has also collaborated with such artists as Avi Avital, Paul Meyer, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, as well as slam poet Bas Böttcher.

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