The four world-class musicians of the Belcea Quartet are joined by their frequent collaborator, French violist Antoine Tamestit, for a singular concert recorded at Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal. Together they perform string quintets by Mozart and Brahms, and Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8.
Each a masterpiece of the string repertoire, the quintets and quartet presented at this intimate chamber music concert are all late works by consummate masters. Mozart’s 1787 String Quintet in C Major—composed the same year as Don Giovanni—proved too challenging for audiences because of two-part invertible counterpoint passages and dramatic harmonic explorations worthy of Beethoven. It shares these complex elements with Brahms’s String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111, composed in 1890. An early biographer Max Kalbeck indicated that the piece was intended to be Brahms’s last, and as such seems to be a testament to his personal idiom’s amalgam of different influences: from German humor and Hungarian pride to Slavic melancholy and Italian vivacity.
As a bridge between the two quintets, the Belcea Quartet performs Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8. Composed soon after a deeply-moving experience he had composing the score for a film about the firebombing of Dresden, the composer’s dark emotional state motivated him to create a work dedicated to “the memory of victims of war and fascism.” Yet at its heart, the quartet is one of his most autobiographical compositions, with manifold allusions to his influences (Wagner and Tchaikovsky), himself (the main theme is a motif based on his initials D. Sch.: D, Es, C, H), and his own œuvre (Symphony Nos. 1, 8, and 10, Trio, Cello Concerto, Lady Macbeth...).
Lucerne Festival 2014
Verbier Festival 2011