Elias String Quartet
Tensions, passions, and daring tonal explorations are at the center of this program. Schubert’s brief but powerful Quartettsatz opens in an agitated state; despite its lyrical second theme, it never quite releases its tension. The platonic love for a younger, married woman inspired a flurry of compositional activity in the last years of Janáček’s life. His “Intimate Letters” Quartet is a passionate paean to his love. Beethoven’s String Quartet in E-flat Major—also composed near the end of his life—ventures into new harmonic territories and boasts a set of brilliant second-movement variations on a noble theme.
Elias String Quartet
·· Sara Bitlloch, Violin
·· Donald Grant, Violin
·· Martin Saving, Viola
·· Marie Bitlloch, Cello
SCHUBERT Quartettsatz in C Minor
JANÁČEK String Quartet No. 2, "Intimate Letters"
BEETHOVEN String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127
TRAD. "Da Day Dawn" (arr. Donald Grant)
DONALD SHAW "Calum's Road" (arr. Donald Grant)
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
FRANZ SCHUBERT Quartettsatz in C Minor, D. 703
This short but intensely expressive fast movement is all that remains of a string quartet that the 23-year-old Schubert left unfinished in 1820. Posthumously published 50 years later, the orphaned “Quartet Movement” looks ahead to the three great quartets of the composer’s maturity.
LEOŠ JANÁČEK String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Letters”
Young Kamila Stösslová was the spark that ignited the white-hot blaze of compositional activity in the last 10 years of Janáček’s life. Their passionate but platonic affair, expressed in hundreds of letters, inspired such masterworks as the operas Kát’a Kabanová and The Makropulos Affair. Above all, Janáček immortalized his muse in his Second String Quartet, which he described as having been “written in fire.”
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127
Beethoven’s five late-period quartets pose special challenges—and offer commensurate rewards—for listeners and performers. One of three quartets commissioned by Prince Nikolai Golitsyn, Beethoven’s Russian patron, Op. 127 is singularly adventurous both formally and tonally, packing a wealth of unexpected twists and turns into its seemingly conventional four-movement format.
Elias String Quartet
The Elias String Quartet is internationally acclaimed as one of the leading ensembles of its generation. Known for its intense and vibrant performances, the quartet has traveled the globe, collaborating with some of the finest musicians and playing in the world’s great halls.
In 2015, the Elias completed its groundbreaking Beethoven Project, performing and recording the composer’s complete string quartets. Broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and performed in 11 major venues in the UK, the quartet’s interpretation of the cycle was also recorded for the Wigmore Hall Live record label; the first of six albums was released in January 2015. The project has been documented on thebeethovenproject.com, a dedicated website supported by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
Nominated to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists program in 2009–2011, the quartet has also received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award (2010), BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year Award (2010), and second prize and the Sidney Griller Award at the ninth Wigmore Hall International (formerly London International) String Quartet Competition.
The quartet has performed alongside such artists as Leon Fleisher, Christian Zacharias, Pascal Moraguès, Ralph Kirshbaum, Dame Ann Murray, Michel Dalberto, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Anthony Marwood, and the Endellion, Vertavo, Navarra, Heath, Belcea, and Jerusalem string quartets. Passionate about new music, the Elias has premiered pieces by Sally Beamish, Colin Matthews, Matthew Hindson, and Timo Andres, and worked with Henri Dutilleux on his string quartet Ainsi la nuit. Most recently, the ensemble recorded Huw Watkins’s In My Craft or Sullen Art with tenor Mark Padmore for NMC Recordings.
The quartet has released three recordings on the Wigmore Hall Live label, as well as a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the French label Ambroisie, Alexander Goehr’s Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records, and piano quintets by Schumann and Dvořák with Jonathan Biss.
The Elias String Quartet was formed at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, where its members worked closely with the late Christopher Rowland and later became junior fellows and associate quartet. They have studied with the Alban Berg Quartett, Peter Cropper, Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy, and Rainer Schmidt.
Simone van der Giessen
Violist Simone van der Giessen was born in Amsterdam in 1984. In 2002, she moved to the UK to continue her studies with Jan Repko at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she later studied with Predrag Katanic, graduated with first class honors, and was awarded the Cecil Aronowitz Prize for viola. In 2009, she performed in London’s Royal Festival Hall with pianist Amy de Sybel after receiving a Martin Musical Scholarship.
A founding member of the Navarra String Quartet, Ms. van der Giessen is in great demand as a chamber musician and is frequently invited to perform with chamber ensembles such as the Aronowitz Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, Ensemble 360, and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Other chamber music partners have included Anthony Marwood, Paul Watkins, and Richard Lester.
Ms. van der Giessen has found musical influences in her work with Alasdair Tait, Christopher Rowland, and David Takeno. She has also benefited from studies at the Bowdoin International Music Festival, International Musicians Seminar, and Cologne Hochschule, and from her work with the Alban Berg Quartett, Gábor Takács-Nagy,
Thomas Riebl, György Kurtág, Eberhard Feltz, and Ferenc Rados.
Ms. van der Giessen was grateful for the generous support of both the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation and the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund throughout her studies.