Repertory list for 2021-22
30th Anniversary Season!


Master list of pieces offered: 
Bach/Bruce Adolphe “ContraDictions & Bach/Steve Mackey “Lude”

Bartok: Quartet No. 5
Beethoven: Quartet in F-Major, Op. 135
Dvorak: Quartet in Ab-Major, Op. 105  (available beginning January 1, 2022))
Gesualdo: Three Madrigals
Haydn: Quartet in F-minor, Op. 20, No. 5
Haydn: Quartet in D-Major, Op. 71 No. 2
Mendelssohn:  Quartet in F-Minor, Op. 80 (available Sept 1 - Dec 31, 2021)

Mendelssohn: from Op. 81
  Tema con Variazioni: Andante Sostenuto
  Scherzo: Allegro leggier
Schubert: Quartet in G-Major, D 887
Stravinsky: Three Pieces for String Quartet (1918)
Stravinsky: Concertino for String Quartet (1920)


Many programs can be constructed from the above list. Please advise us of your preference which we will then submit to the musicians for approval.

Special Programs:

Program 1: Celebrating 30 years of the Brentano Quartet

Haydn: Quartet in D-Major, Op. 71 No. 2 (the first piece on our very first concert!)

Two commissions from our 10th anniversary:

Bach/ Adolphe ContraDictions

Bach/ Mackey Lude


Schubert: Quintet for Strings in C-Major, D 956 (with Michael Kannen, original Brentano Quartet cellist)
OR (presenter choice)

Schubert: Quartet in G-Major, D 887

Having started making music ago thirty years ago, as optimistic and eager young musicians with a great love for string quartets, we’ve since grown up together as artists and as people. It continues to be a rare joy and privilege to play this compelling, beautiful and probing repertoire together, and to share our investigations into these works with audiences. The program opens with the piece which started our very first concert together in 1992. I still remember the excitement, the great hope, and the great privilege I felt playing this music with people I love. All of that persists thirty years later, and it is a delight to share this wonderful and not so known Haydn quartet again with our listeners. We follow that with two works we commissioned as part of a tenth anniversary project celebrating Bach and composers of our time. On this program, we play two of the fugues from Bach’s Art of Fugue (a piece we’ve spent a lot of time with as part of a two very special projects) alongside two works commenting on Bach by Bruce Adolphe and Steven Mackey, two composers with whom we’ve worked since the very beginning. (In fact, the second piece on our very first concert was the world premiere of Bruce’s String Quartet No. 2!) After intermission, it is our great joy to have the entire Brentano family, current members and our original ‘cellist, Michael Kannen, on stage together in a piece that is on the Desert Island list of so many. We have played this piece together (and recorded it) over many years, and with everyone in the group knowing each other so well offers a special intimacy and intensity that we so enjoy experiencing and sharing.


Program 2:  “A Tribute to Stravinsky (50 years after his death)”

A program highlighting a trio of Stravinsky works (“Three Pieces for String Quartet”, “Concertino”, and "The Dove Descending Breaks the Air") interwoven with works by Machaut, Shostakovich, Verdi, Cage, and concluding with Beethoven's Op. 135.

At this moment in time, a half century after the death of the great composer Igor Stravinsky, we offer a program that celebrates his strikingly original and gripping works for string quartet and provides a framework within which to experience them afresh. The pieces in the first half are arranged in a kind of kaleidoscopic collage, with reflections and internal dialogues between the short works and movements. Stravinsky’s Concertino keeps quirky company with two movements of Cage which share with it some musical DNA. The Three Pieces for String Quartet each have a companion, each pair trafficking in similar issues. The first piece is paired with Machaut and its interlocking patterns; the second, inspired by Little Tich, an English music-hall clown, is heard along side the Shostakovich Polka, which dances also in awkward and comic fashion; the liturgical-style third piece is heard alongside the Ave Maria of Verdi, whom Stravinsky so admired. Each of these pieces is also prefaced by a reading of an Amy Lowell poem inspired by the Three Pieces which aims to "reproduce the sound and movement of the music as far as is possible in another medium.” A textless string quartet reading of a haunting choral anthem by Stravinsky rounds out the first half.

After intermission we play three Gesualdo madrigals, all of which Stravinsky, whose great enthusiasm for Gesualdo brought him back into the public consciousness, chose to arrange for orchestra. The ending work, Beethoven’s final string quartet, Op. 135, is arguably the closest of the Beethoven quartets to Stravinsky’s mosaic-like textures and utterly clear textures, with a notable pre-echo of the Three Pieces in the quartet’s scherzo.

The Music:
Stravinsky: “Three Pieces for String Quartet”, “Concertino”, and "The Dove Descending Breaks the Air"
John Cage: from Quartet in Four Parts: “Quietly Flowing Along” and “Quodlibet”
Machaut: Quant en moy 
reading: from Amy Lowell "Stravinsky Three Pieces, "Grotesques" for string quartet" (recording)
Shostakovich: Polka
Verdi: “Ave Maria”
Gesualdo: Three Madrigals
Beethoven: Quartet in F-Major, Op. 135



Special Project: "Dido Reimagined" with soprano Dawn Upshaw

The Brentano Quartet is excited to embark on a collaboration with soprano Dawn Upshaw, composer Melinda Wagner, and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann. “Dido Reimagined” will feature a first half of early English songs and consort music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, culminating in Purcell’s Dido’s Lament. The second half then imagines Dido into our modern age in a newly commissioned monodrama for soprano and quartet by Melinda Wagner and Stephanie Fleischmann.  

Please contact our office to discuss you program preference, and for more details regarding “Dido Reimagined” mentioned above.