The Philharmonia Quartett attracted a great deal of attention with their complete Shostakovich quartet cycle in past years. For their 30th birthday the ensemble is giving itself a gift, programming the Russian composers String Quartets Nos. 11 and 12 again, together with Ludwig van Beethoven’s 12th string quartet, which unites beauty and polyphonic artistry.
Yubilee Concert – 30 Years of the Philharmonia Quartet
String Quartet No. 11 in F minor
String Quartet No. 12 in D flat major
String Quartet No. 12 in E flat major
Introduction: 7:00 pm
In Dmitri Shostakovich’s Eleventh String Quartet op. 122 composed in 1966, the music starts only hesitantly – aimlessly circling, gripping and then keeps disintegrating, like parchment that has become brittle, with faded pages containing central motives and quotations from earlier works. The aphoristic piece originated in remembrance of Vasily Shirinsky, the second violinist of the Beethoven Quartet who died in 1965; its motives seem to circle quite generally around themes like “death” and “mortality”. In contrast, the String Quartet op. 133, composed two years later and expansive as a symphony, is dedicated to the first violinist of the Beethoven Quartet, Dmitri Tsyganov. That Shostakovich tried out twelve-tone technique specifically in this twelfth quartet may be attributable to his predilection for number symbolism; however, in so doing he by no means avoided associations with the tonal system; after all, the work is in the home key of D flat major.
The Philharmonia Quartett will present the two works. In the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons the ensemble attracted international attention with their complete Shostakovich quartet cycle in the Chamber Music Hall, as they did with their performance of all Ludwig van Beethoven’s string quartets in 2003/04. The programme will end with Beethoven’s lyrical E flat major quartet op. 127, whose polyphonic artistry, in the words of the critic of the Berliner Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung in 1827, lead us into the “master’s magic circle ... in which one perceives more and more lines and figures that want to take possession of the soul”.