Brentano String Quartet
"The American ensemble, by now well established in the international pantheon, offers performances both fiercely intelligent and expressively pristine."
“[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)
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)
with pianist Gloria Chien performing the Piano Quintet by Amy Beach
“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
“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.
Beethoven: Quartet in Bb, Op. 18#6
Lei Liang newly commissioned work
Britten Quartet #2 OR Mendelssohn Op. 44#1 (fall only)
(available before Dec 31, 2024)
Haydn: Quartet in G Major, Op. 33#5
Britten: Quartet #2 OR Shostakovich #8
Mendelssohn: Op 44#1
(available after Jan 1, 2025)
Haydn: Quartet in D Major, Op. 33 #6
Britten: Quartet #2
Brahms: Op. 67
Mark Steinberg, violin
Serena Canin, violin
Misha Amory, viola
Nina Lee, cello
Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism.”
Within a few years of its formation, the Quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and was also honored in the U.K. with the Royal Philharmonic Award for Most Outstanding Debut. Since then, the Quartet has concertized widely, performing in the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington; the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; the Konzerthaus in Vienna; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the Sydney Opera House.
In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet maintains a strong interest in contemporary music, and has commissioned many new works. Their latest project, a monodrama for quartet and voice called Dido Reimagined, was composed by Pulitzer-winning composer Melinda Wagner and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann, and had its premiere in spring 2022 with soprano Dawn Upshaw. Other recent commissions include the composers Matthew Aucoin, Lei Liang, Vijay Iyer, James Macmillan, and a cello quintet by Steven Mackey (performed with Wilhelmina Smith, cello.)
The Brentano Quartet has worked closely with other important composers of our time, among them Elliot Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. They have also been privileged to collaborate with such artists as soprano Jessye Norman, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and pianists Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, and Mitsuko Uchida. The Quartet has recorded works by Mozart and Schubert for Azica Records, and all of Beethoven’s late Quartets for the Aeon label. In 2012, they provided the central music (Beethoven Opus 131) for the critically-acclaimed independent film A Late Quartet.
Since 2014, the Brentano Quartet has served as Artists-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music. They were formerly the Ensemble-in-Residence at Princeton University, and were twice invited to be the collaborative ensemble for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
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.
2023-24 season. Please discard previous or undated materials.