Performance Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Belcea Quartet

Zankel Hall
The Belcea Quartet, a group that approaches everything it plays with “timeless daring” (The New York Times), continues its three-concert focus on Beethoven’s epoch-making late quartets. This program features the E-flat–Major Quartet, Op. 127—the first of the five final quartets that changed the string quartet genre forever—and the B-flat–Major Quartet, Op 130.


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


  • String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 127
  • String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130


  • Belcea Quartet

    Established at the Royal College of Music in 1994, the Belcea Quartet is the quartet-in-residence at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, and has also been ensemble-in-residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus since the 2010-2011 season.

    The quartet regularly performs in venues around the world, including Wigmore Hall (London), Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), Konzerthuset (Stockholm), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Gulbenkian Grand Auditorium (Lisbon), Alice Tully Hall (New York), and Herbst Theatre (San Francisco). Belcea also appears frequently in the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Bath, Cheltenham, Mecklenburg, and Salzburg festivals, as well as at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.

    Last season, the Belcea Quartet embarked on an ambitious survey of Beethoven's string quartets. Complete cycles have been presented in the UK, Germany, and Austria; and will be taken to Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy. In Aldeburgh, the concerts were recorded live for Zig-Zag Territoires, with the first volume set to release this fall.

    Highlights of Belcea's 2012-2013 season include performances of Haydn's Seven Last Words with Thomas Quasthoff; Shostakovich's Piano Quintet with Menahem Pressler; Dvořák's Piano Quintet with Till Fellner; and Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen with Nicolas Bone, Eckart Runge, and Alois Posch.

    The Belcea Quartet's discography for EMI includes Brahms's String Quartet, Op.51, No.1, and Second String Quintet with Thomas Kakuska; Fauré's La bonne chanson with Ian Bostridge; Schubert's "Trout" Quintet with Thomas Adès and Corin Long; a double disc of Britten's string quartets, which won a MIDEM Classical Award; Mozart's "Dissonance" and "Hoffmeister" quartets; and the complete Bartók quartets, for which Belcea was named Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year by Germany's prestigious ECHO Klassik Awards and nominated for a 2008 Gramophone Award. The quartet won the Gramophone Award for best debut recording in 2001.

    More Info


Pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 PM in Zankel Hall with members of the Belcea Quartet in conversation with Jeremy Geffen, Director of Artistic Planning, Carnegie Hall.


Beethoven's Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major for Strings, Op. 127, IV. Finale
Juilliard String Quartet
Sony Classical

Beethoven and the String Quartet

Beethoven's 16 string quartets, written between 1798 and 1827, constitute a towering achievement that has both inspired and intimidated composers. Schumann—whose own quartets are deeply indebted to Beethoven's—declared that the genre had "come to a standstill" after Beethoven's death; the "immortal freshness" of his quartets, along with those of Mozart and Haydn, continued to "gladden the hearts of everyone," but the younger generation had proven incapable of producing anything of comparable quality. Indeed, with the possible exception of Dmitri Shostakovich in the 20th century, no other composer has so consistently used the string quartet as a vehicle for working out musical ideas in their most concentrated and intensely personal form. 

Compared to Haydn's 68 quartets and Mozart's 27, Beethoven's output was small. Moreover, his production of quartets was sporadic, usually having been prompted by commissions from various aristocratic friends. The six Op. 18 quartets and the "Harp" Quartet, Op. 74, are dedicated to Prince Joseph Lobkowitz, Vienna's foremost patron of the arts in the early 1800s, while the three Op. 59 quartets were commissioned by Count Andrey Razumovsky, Russia's ambassador to the Viennese court and an enthusiastic amateur violinist. Toward the end of his life, after a hiatus of more than a decade, Beethoven accepted a commission for "one, two, or three new quartets" from Prince Nikolay Golitsïn, a cello-playing Russian nobleman, which resulted in the A-Minor Quartet, Op. 132, as well opuses 127 and 130.

Regardless of who was paying the piper, Beethoven showed little inclination to let either his enlightened benefactors or the Viennese public call the tune. Despite the lucid classicism of the early Op. 18 quartets, one contemporary described them as being "very difficult to perform and not at all popular." The weightier, more contrapuntal style of the middle-period quartets—the three "Razumovskys," the "Harp," and the "Serioso," Op. 95—provoked similar reactions. Most challenging of all, to both performers and listeners, were the five late quartets (opuses 127, 130, 131, 132, and 135) that Beethoven composed between 1824 and 1826. These knotty, inward-looking masterpieces stretch the formal and expressive language of the classical string quartet almost to the breaking point.
Program Notes
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.
Funding for the Carnegie Hall Live broadcast series is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Additional support for this Carnegie Hall Live broadcast is provided by Tourism Ireland.
This performance is part of Chamber Sessions II.

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