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Encore Series: Artemis Quartet
Information
Information
Programme
Programme
About the Performer
About the Performer
Ticketing
Ticketing
Pre-concert Talk
Pre-concert Talk

A Quartet of Many Changes Plays Quartets of Many Changes (Ernest Wan)


A philosophical question: what is a string quartet ensemble?  Suppose the members of a group are replaced one by one, until none of the original players is left.  (And this process may be repeated…)  Is the quartet, then, still the same quartet as before?  Among the many possible responses to this question, may one not venture a somewhat fanciful one by saying that it remains the same quartet so long as it retains the same sort of sound and style?

In the case of the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet, which was founded in 1989 at the University of Music Lübeck in Germany, only the original cellist, Eckart Runge, has stayed to this day, and since its inception it has had three each of violists and first violinists, as well as four second violinists.  Reasons players left include retirement, injury and family obligations.  Most tragically, as recently as 2015, the violist Friedemann Weigle, having long battled with bipolar illness, took his own life.  Thereafter, violinist Gregor Sigl switched to Weigle' s instrument, and the group has since recruited Anthea Kreston as a new violinist, the other violinist Vineta Sareika having joined in 2012.  For all the changes in personnel over the years, critics have remarked on how little the quartet' s sound and style have altered – on the distinctive identity the Artemis has had all along.

Of the Artemis Quartet' s recordings, their complete Beethoven quartets, which were made over a thirteen-year period and involved no fewer than six players, have won the group the greatest acclaim.  Their expertise in Beethoven is not only attested by the numerous awards they have received for these recordings.  The famed film director Bruno Monsaingeon made a documentary with the ensemble rehearsing and performing the composer' s Große Fuge (Great Fugue), Op. 133.  Further, they have been named an honorary member of the Beethoven-Haus Association in Bonn, where the composer was born.

I have had the good fortune to hear them play some of Beethoven' s quartets "live".  Their performances of the late works were dramatic and rich in contrasts, while their early Beethoven had considerable freshness and humour, qualities one can expect to find in their upcoming performance in Hong Kong of the composer' s youthful Op. 18 No. 3 Quartet, which, despite the number, is in fact the first work he ever wrote in that genre.

More generally, the Artemis' s Beethoven is characterised by great clarity, energy and fluency.  This last means a natural sense of timing as well as smooth transitions between successive sections of music, however different they may be from one another.  This strength seems well suited to some especially tricky portions of the Schumann work, and basically all of the Janáček, that they will also perform in Hong Kong. Schumann' s highly unusual Third Quartet has a very lyrical opening movement and a deeply moving slow movement, but it also contains a set of variations in place of a scherzo, plus a finale kaleidoscopic in its sudden moves between sharply contrasting musics.

The changes of moods are even more mercurial in Janáček' s Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata", inspired by Tolstoy' s novella in which a jealous man suspects his wife of adultery and kills her.  The volatility of the music that reflects the complex emotions in the story is in fact typical of the composer' s late years – he wrote this first quartet of his at the age of 69 – and may also mirror the passion he nursed for the much younger woman with whom he fell in love several years earlier.  I do look forward to hearing the lively and agile Artemis Quartet perform this music of such febrile intensity.

 

Beethoven

String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op. 18, No. 3

Janáček

String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”

Schumann

String Quartet No. 3 in A, Op. 41, No. 3

 

The performance will run for about 1 hour and 30 minutes including a 15 minute intermission. 

Audience is strongly advised to arrive punctually.  Latecomers will only be admitted during the intermission or at a suitable break.

The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists.

 

A Quartet of Many Changes Plays Quartets of Many Changes

Ernest Wan

(Ernest Wan is a writer and translator
who specialises in music criticism.)

A philosophical question: what is a string quartet ensemble?  Suppose the members of a group are replaced one by one, until none of the original players is left.  (And this process may be repeated…)  Is the quartet, then, still the same quartet as before?  Among the many possible responses to this question, may one not venture a somewhat fanciful one by saying that it remains the same quartet so long as it retains the same sort of sound and style?

In the case of the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet, which was founded in 1989 at the University of Music Lübeck in Germany, only the original cellist, Eckart Runge, has stayed to this day, and since its inception it has had three each of violists and first violinists, as well as four second violinists.  Reasons players left include retirement, injury and family obligations.  Most tragically, as recently as 2015, the violist Friedemann Weigle, having long battled with bipolar illness, took his own life.  Thereafter, violinist Gregor Sigl switched to Weigle’s instrument, and the group has since recruited Anthea Kreston as a new violinist, the other violinist Vineta Sareika having joined in 2012.  For all the changes in personnel over the years, critics have remarked on how little the quartet’s sound and style have altered – on the distinctive identity the Artemis has had all along.

Of the Artemis Quartet’s recordings, their complete Beethoven quartets, which were made over a thirteen-year period and involved no fewer than six players, have won the group the greatest acclaim.  Their expertise in Beethoven is not only attested by the numerous awards they have received for these recordings.  The famed film director Bruno Monsaingeon made a documentary with the ensemble rehearsing and performing the composer’s Große Fuge (Great Fugue), Op. 133.  Further, they have been named an honorary member of the Beethoven-Haus Association in Bonn, where the composer was born.

I have had the good fortune to hear them play some of Beethoven’s quartets “live”.  Their performances of the late works were dramatic and rich in contrasts, while their early Beethoven had considerable freshness and humour, qualities one can expect to find in their upcoming performance in Hong Kong of the composer’s youthful Op. 18 No. 3 Quartet, which, despite the number, is in fact the first work he ever wrote in that genre.

More generally, the Artemis’s Beethoven is characterised by great clarity, energy and fluency.  This last means a natural sense of timing as well as smooth transitions between successive sections of music, however different they may be from one another.  This strength seems well suited to some especially tricky portions of the Schumann work, and basically all of the Janáček, that they will also perform in Hong Kong. Schumann’s highly unusual Third Quartet has a very lyrical opening movement and a deeply moving slow movement, but it also contains a set of variations in place of a scherzo, plus a finale kaleidoscopic in its sudden moves between sharply contrasting musics.

The changes of moods are even more mercurial in Janáček’s Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”, inspired by Tolstoy’s novella in which a jealous man suspects his wife of adultery and kills her.  The volatility of the music that reflects the complex emotions in the story is in fact typical of the composer’s late years – he wrote this first quartet of his at the age of 69 – and may also mirror the passion he nursed for the much younger woman with whom he fell in love several years earlier.  I do look forward to hearing the lively and agile Artemis Quartet perform this music of such febrile intensity.

Artemis Quartet

The Artemis Quartet gives concerts for all great musical centres and international festivals in Europe, the United States, Asia, South America and Australia. Since 2004 the quartet has created own cycles at the chamber music hall of the Berlin Philharmonie, since 2011 at the Wiener Konzerthaus (together with the Belcea Quartet) and with the beginning of season 2016-17 at the Prince Regent Theatre in Munich.

 

The Berlin-based Artemis Quartet is counted among the foremost worldwide quartet formations today, which was founded in 1989 at the University of Music Lübeck. Important mentors have been Walter Levin, Alfred Brendel, the Alban Berg Quartet, Juilliard Quartet and Emerson Quartet. Being awarded the first place in ARD competition in 1996 and 6 months later at "Premio Borciani", made the quartet internationally successful. Yet the four initially followed an invitation of the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin in order to enhance their studies as an ensemble and to broaden them in an interdisciplinary exchange with renowned academics. The quartet’s “comeback” happened with its Berliner debut. In 2013, the Beethovenhaus Bonn decorated the quartet as an honorary member for merits of its interpretation of Beethoven’s works.

 

From the beginning the collaboration with musical colleagues has been a major inspiration for the quartet. Thus, the Artemis Quartet has toured with notable musicians such as Sabine Meyer, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Juliane Banse and Jörg Widmann. Various recordings documented the artistic cooperation with several partners, for example the piano quintets by Schuhmann and Brahms with Leif Ove Andsnes, Schubert’s quintet with Truls Mørk or Arnold Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht with Thomas Kakuska and Valentin Erben from the Alban Berg Quartet, etc.

 

Since 2005 the Artemis Quartet exclusively has recorded for Virgin, today Erato and can by now look back on a large discography. The quartet's recordings have been repeatedly awarded The German Record Critic’s Award, the Gramophone Award as well as Diapason d’Or. The entire recording of Beethoven’s quartets for strings was honoured with the important french Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros in 2011. The quartet has received an Echo Klassik at four occasions, at last in 2015 for the recording of creations of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as well as in 2016 for the recording of Brahm’s quartets Op. 51, No. 1 and Op. 67, dedicated to the quartet’s former violist

Friedemann Weigle, who tragically passed away in July 2015. The next recording with works of Shostakovich will be released sooner this year, including the piano quintet with Elisabeth Leonskaja.

 

Information provided by the artists

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
20:00
Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
location
$340, $280, $220, $160
DATE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
20:00
PRICE
$340, $280, $220, $160

Tickets available from 5 March at URBTIX outlets, on Internet, by Mobile Ticketing App and Credit Card Telephone Booking.

“Great Music” Package Discount
For each purchase of standard tickets for "Artemis Quartet", "Magdalena Kožená and Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra", "Paco Peña and Friends – Esencias", "Piano Recital by Dang Thai Son" and "Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Choir", the following concession applies:
5% off for any 2 programmes, 10% off for any 3 programmes, 15% off for any 4 programmes, 20% off for all 5 programmes.

“Great Music” Group Booking Discount
For each purchase of standard tickets for "Artemis Quartet", "Magdalena Kožená and Basel La Cetra Baroque Orchestra", "Paco Peña and Friends – Esencias", "Piano Recital by Dang Thai Son" and "Ton Koopman and Amsterdam Baroque Choir", the following concession applies:
10% off for each purchase of 4 – 9 standard tickets, 15% off for 10 – 19 standard tickets, 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount offers.

 

Programme Enquiries: 2268 7321

Ticketing Enquiries:3761 6661

Credit Card Telephone Booking:2111 5999

Internet Booking:www.urbtix.hk

DATE
VENUE
PRICE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
18:45
North Committee Room, 7/F, High Block, Hong Kong City Hall
location
Admission Free
DATE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
18:45
PRICE
Admission Free

A Quartet of Many Changes Plays Quartets of Many Changes  (Conducted in Cantonese)

 

Speaker: Ernest Wan

(Ernest Wan is a writer and translator who specialises in music criticism.)

 

Admission free on a first-come-first-served basis.

Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
  • date07.06.2018 (Thu) 20:00
  • price$340, $280, $220, $160
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Programme Notes
DATE
VENUE
PRICE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
20:00
Concert Hall, Hong Kong City Hall
location
$340, $280, $220, $160
DATE
07.06.2018 (Thu)
20:00
PRICE
$340, $280, $220, $160
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