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Brentano String Quartet

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PRESS ACCLAIM

"The American ensemble, by now well established in the international pantheon, offers performances both fiercely intelligent and expressively pristine."

-New Yorker

“[A] remarkable capacity for magical ensemble playing…effervescent."

-The Washington Post

“Exhilarating...this intensely physical quartet is defined by passion....... The Brentano produced a luxuriously warm sound, yearning lyricism and a palpable frisson of excitement....... Their gorgeous sound seemed to float and hover blissfully above the stage...... The Brentano gave a gripping performance.”

-New York Times

“Balance and intonation reach an almost unearthly level of perfection, yet there's nothing inhuman about these American musicians. And their intimate embrace is marvelous: it's as though each player is inhabiting each others' skin…a splendid quartet.”

-The Times (London)

REPERTOIRE

2024 - 2025 PROGRAMS

MASTER LIST OF PIECES OFFERED

(use to request your preferred program)

Beethoven: Quartet in Bb, Op. 18#6

Brahms:  Quartet in Bb-Major, Op 67 (available beginning January 1, 2025)

Britten: Quartet #2

Haydn: the complete quartets of Op. 33 (Nos. 1-6)

Lei Liang: "Gobi Gloria"

Lei Liang:  newly commissioned work

Mendelssohn: Quartet in D Major, 44#1 (available through Dec 31, 2024)

Schubert: Quartet in a minor, D. 804 “Rosamunde” (available beginning April 15, 2025)

Shostakovich:  Quartet No. 8 in C-minor, Op. 110 (available through Dec 31, 2024) 

COLLABORATIONS

with pianist Gloria Chien performing the Piano Quintet by Amy Beach

SPECIAL PROJECTS

“Evocations of Home”

Lei Liang: newly commissioned work in honor of Chou Wen-chung

Lei Liang: Gobi Gloria

and movements by Monteverdi, Schubert, Bartok, Dvorak, Chou

In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system, practitioners often speak of prakriti, your native state, the balance of energies you’re born with, and vikriti, your current state, the balance in which you find yourself at the moment. Health is thought to consist in bringing your current constitution back in alignment with that with which you were born. So much of self-knowledge has to do with this connection and reconnection with our origins, our birthright, our genesis, the soil from which we grow. And the hero’s journey derives much of its meaning from the return home, the opportunity to rediscover and recontextualize one’s place of origin. This program offers a set of perspectives on the idea of home, culturally, intellectually, emotionally, and geographically. Prominently featured is a new work by Lei Liang in honor of his teacher, the great composer Chou Wen-chung, a response to the spiritual home provided by the inspiration and mentorship of a profound artist. We offer, as well, a movement by Chou that has its roots in the artistic home of Chinese calligraphy and poetry, an earlier work of Lei Liang’s that grows out of Mongolian music, as well as movements by Dvorak, Schubert, Bartok and Monteverdi that evoke a sense of place, identity and heritage. Together they have much to tell us about our sense of ancestry, both actual and metaphorical, and how it sculpts and shades our understanding and emotional landscape.

Haydn:  the six Op. 33 quartets

performed in two programs, or in a single program with two intermissions (one of which could be an extended break for dinner).

Like other great collections of six works in our quartet repertoire, such as the Mozart “Haydn” quartets or Beethoven’s Op. 18 set, the six works of Haydn’s Op. 33, which he claimed to have written in a “new and special style,” offer a dazzling array of imaginative, profound, witty and mesmerizing inspirations. While they are rarely heard in performance as an entire set, the opportunity to take them all in together is a rich and varied, compelling experience, quite far from the sense of self-similarity one might initially expect upon seeing the program on the page. Haydn’s world is wildly variegated, representing the quintessence of what the string quartet is able to offer, replete with intimacy, social interactions, as well as great beauty and excitement. There is no other composer whose works we more adore playing, and it is with great excitement that we offer this seminal set of quartets in its entirety.

SUGGESTED PROGRAM COMBINATIONS

Notes:

  • “OR” indicates presenter choice between works – please advise with your choice.

  • Additional program combinations are possible – let us know your request and we will consult with the quartet.

PROGRAM 1

Beethoven: Quartet in Bb, Op. 18#6

Lei Liang newly commissioned work

Britten Quartet #2    OR     Mendelssohn Op. 44#1 (fall only)

PROGRAM 2

(available before Dec 31, 2024)

Haydn: Quartet in G Major, Op. 33#5

Britten: Quartet #2    OR     Shostakovich #8

Mendelssohn: Op 44#1

PROGRAM 3

(available after Jan 1, 2025)

Haydn:  Quartet in D Major, Op. 33 #6 

Britten: Quartet #2

Brahms:   Op. 67

June 2023

BIOGRAPHY

Mark Steinberg, violin
Serena Canin, violin
Misha Amory, viola
Nina Lee, cello

With a career spanning over three decades, the Brentano Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. The New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism; and the Times (London) hails their “wonderful, selfless music-making.” Known for its unique sensibility, probing interpretive style, and original programming, the Quartet has performed across five continents in the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals, thus establishing itself as one of the world’s preeminent ensembles.

 

Dedicated and highly sought after as educators, the Quartet has served as Artists-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music for the past decade.  They also lead the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and appear regularly at the Taos School of Music.  Previously, the Quartet served for fifteen years as Ensemble-in-Residence at Princeton University.

 

In the 2024-25 concert season, the Quartet will premiere a program called “Evocations of Home,” featuring a new work by Lei Liang in honor of the late composer Chou Wen-chung. In spring 2025, they will perform Haydn’s complete Op. 33 quartets at New York’s Carnegie Hall and in several other U.S. cities.  Other recent projects include “Dido Reimagined,” a monodrama for quartet and voice with soprano Dawn Upshaw, composed by Pulitzer-winning composer Melinda Wagner and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, as well as a viola quintet, “Heart Speaks to Heart,” by composer James MacMillan.

 

Formed in 1992, The Brentano Quartet has received numerous accolades, including, in 1995, the prestigious Naumburg and Cleveland Quartet Awards. They have been privileged to collaborate with such artists as soprano Jessye Norman and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, as well as pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss.  The Quartet has commissioned works from some of the most important composers of our time, including Bruce Adolphe, Matthew Aucoin, Gabriela Frank, Stephen Hartke, Vijay Iyer, Steven Mackey, and Charles Wuorinen.

 

The Quartet’s notable recordings include Beethoven’s Quartet, Op. 131 (Aeon) which was featured in the 2012 film “A Late Quartet,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken, and a 2017 live album with Joyce DiDonato, “Into the Fire—Live from Wigmore Hall” (Warner.) Their most recent release features the K. 428 and K. 465 (“Dissonance”) Quartets of Mozart for the Azica label.

 

The Quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,”  the intended recipient of his famous love confession.

Updated May, 2024. Please discard previous or undated versions.

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