The Auryn quartet is named after a magical amulet that inspires its owner and helps them to follow their dreams: the Auryn from Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story, on the back of which is engraved the motto “Do what you wish!” Since it was founded in 1981, the ensemble has long been one of the leading groups on the international quartet scene: with a homogeneous ensemble sound, in which transparency, precision and maintaining the individuality of the instruments play a major role. To open the concert, the Auryn quartet plays the confessional String Quartet in F minor, op. 95, which Beethoven composed after his marriage proposal to Therese Malfatti was rejected.
This is followed by Mozart’s G minor piano quartet KV 478, which sometimes takes the form of a piano concerto “en miniature”: the memorable introduction of the first movement with a characteristic dialogue between tutti and soloist immediately creates the exciting drama of a concerto. The piano part is played by Alexander Lonquich, one of the major performers of his generation today as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor.
The evening comes to a close with Ernest Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D major op. 21, which was written for the Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe. The work, which is much too rarely heard, follows in the tradition of the Baroque concerto grosso. In an almost unique instrumental formation, it is possible to create a variety of effective sound combinations: from duet between piano and violin, piano quintet and sextet passages, to a near orchestral-like sound. The soloist is the violinist Caroline Widmann, born in Munich in 1976 who, as an expert in new music, always strives to reflect the historical in the modern and vice versa: “You can only make sense of the old if you understand the new, and the other way round. It’s like a sense of history: I can understand today only through yesterday.”