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Belcea Quartet

Thursday, October 18, 2018 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
Belcea Quartet by Marco Borggreve
Late string quartets by Mozart and Mendelssohn frame a new work by Joseph Phibbs, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall. Mozart’s penultimate quartet is noteworthy for its refinement and free-flowing melodies. Mendelssohn’s final quartet intensely churns in its first two movements, reflecting his grief over the death of his sister Fanny. Its slow movement is a beautifully tender song that may well be an elegy for both Fanny and, with his own health failing, himself—it is an unforgettable moment of calm before the anguished finale.


Belcea Quartet
·· Corina Belcea, Violin
·· Axel Schacher, Violin
·· Krzysztof Chorzelski, Viola
·· Antoine Lederlin, Cello


MOZART String Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 589, "Prussian"

JOSEPH PHIBBS String Quartet No. 3 (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80


BEETHOVEN Cavatina from String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
Belcea Quartet: Brahms String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No. 1
The performance footage was captured on October 22, 2014 in Zankel Hall.

Support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by members of Carnegie Hall’s Composer Club.

This concert is made possible, in part, by an endowment fund for young artists established by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony B. Evnin and the A.E. Charitable Foundation.

At a Glance

MOZART  String Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 589, “Prussian”

The three quartets that Mozart wrote in 1789–1790 for the cello-playing Prussian monarch Friedrich Wilhelm II are his last and among his finest contributions to the genre. Roughly contemporaneous with the comic opera Così fan tutte and the Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, the “Prussian” Quartets combine elegance, wit, and virtuosity. Bravura writing for both the first violin and the cello gives the B-flat–Major Quartet an extra measure of sparkle.


JOSEPH PHIBBS  String Quartet No. 3

British composer Joseph Phibbs has an affinity for the lucid, well-crafted music of Benjamin Britten, of which it has been said that it had the power “to connect the avant-garde with the lost paradise of tonality.” Phibbs’s new String Quartet No. 3 represents a similar fusion of traditional and “post-tonal” or “postmodern” elements. Like his two previous quartets, it is laid out in discrete movements and combines lyrical, often rhapsodic passages with music of a driving, toccata-like character.


MENDELSSOHN  String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mendelssohn seldom used music as a vehicle for expressing personal feelings. But the death of his sister Fanny in May 1847, less than six months before his own demise, seems to have compelled a musical response in the form of the powerful F-Minor Quartet, his last and arguably greatest piece of chamber music. That fall, Mendelssohn played the work on the piano for his friend Ignaz Moscheles, who remarked that “the passionate character of the entire piece seems to me to be consistent with his deeply disturbed frame of mind.”


Belcea Quartet

“What seems to be the predominant impulse driving [Beethoven’s] music is man’s yearning for freedom, the unquenchable desire to expand his limits and to learn the truth about himself in this process.”

These words by the Belcea Quartet—from the preface to its recording  ...

“What seems to be the predominant impulse driving [Beethoven’s] music is man’s yearning for freedom, the unquenchable desire to expand his limits and to learn the truth about himself in this process.”

These words by the Belcea Quartet—from the preface to its recording Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets—could also be described as the ensemble’s artistic creed. These musicians are not confined by traditional boundaries. It is perhaps the very fact of the group’s diverse cultural backgrounds that propels the dynamic and free interpretative style.

Founded at the Royal College of Music in London in 1994, the quartet is based in Great Britain. Yet Romanian violinist Corina Belcea and Polish violist Krzysztof Chorzelski—the two founding members—bring a very different artistic provenance to the ensemble while drawing from the best traditions of string quartet playing from the group’s mentors: the Alban Berg Quartet and Amadeus Quartet. This spectrum of influence is extended by French musicians Axel Schacher and Antoine Lederlin.

The Belcea Quartet has an impressive discography. With EMI Classics, it has recorded the complete string quartets of Britten and Bartók, as well as works by Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Debussy, Ravel, and Dutilleux, among others. In 2015, the quartet released its highly acclaimed recording of works by Webern, Berg, and Schoenberg to coincide with its 20th anniversary jubilee. In 2016, the Belcea Quartet released a recording of Brahms’s complete string quartets and Piano Quintet—a CD acclaimed by the press and awarded with an ECHO Klassik as well as a Diapason d’Or. An album of music by Shostakovich, including the Third String Quartet and the Piano Quintet featuring Piotr Anderszewski, was released in April 2018.

The Belcea Quartet’s performances of the complete Beethoven string quartets at the Vienna Konzerthaus in 2012 were broadcast by Mezzo TV and released by the EuroArts label in the fall of 2014. The release was accompanied by Jean-Claude Mocik’s documentary of the entire project, Looking for Beethoven.

In the 2018–2019 season, the Belcea Quartet will perform in such venues as Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Théaˆtre des Champs-Élysées, Konserthuset Stockholm, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the National Theater and Concert Hall in Taipei.

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