March 19, 2016: Ariel Quartet

Ariel Quartet

Gershon Gerchikov, Alexandra Kazovsky, violins

Jan Grüning, viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello



Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 8 PM


Haydn: Quartet No. 63 in B-flat major, Op. 76, No. 4

Beethoven: Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95 “Serioso”

Brahms: Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51


Dear friends,

The Ariel Quartet originated in Israel almost two decades ago, when its members were teenagers. They continue to perform widely in Israel and around the world.

They moved to the U.S. in 2004 and are presently the Faculty Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where they direct the chamber music program and perform their own annual series of concerts.

Kathy and I first met the Ariel Quartet at the Banff String Quartet Competition in 2007, where they created a strong emotional impression on the audience. They are hard to forget.

Nine years later, we will all hear them in Winnipeg – just weeks before their Carnegie Hall debut on May 3rd.

The quartet’s artistic vision reflects a quote by Goethe about the magic that is produced in a string quartet whenever four vibrant and convincing personalities come together to discuss, disagree, plead, and sometimes, simply converse – (but of course, we would expect any disagreement to have been resolved in rehearsal!).

They open their program with Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet (Op. 76, No. 4). This is Haydn’s 63rd String Quartet of an astounding 68, and considered by many to be his very best, and audiences never tire of hearing it. It reflects a new style he developed based upon his experience of composing for public performances in large halls in London, where the players were highly accomplished musicians. Usually, his quartets were performed privately by gifted amateurs. (However, the word “amateur” loses its meaning when you consider that Haydn frequently inserted himself as violist on these occasions.) One of the new features in the Sunrise Quartet is a very morose and emotional adagio movement, which moves at an extremely deliberate pace and is also bathed in a profound melancholy. It also features a prominent viola part, presumably for Haydn’s own use, since he was such an avid quartet violist. The piece comes to a thrilling conclusion in the final movement, – which is a technical minefield for the players with markings of “faster” and then, “faster yet”.

The second work on the program is Beethoven’s Quartet in F minor, Op. 95, which he subtitled “Serioso”, reflecting the prevailing somber mood of the piece. Although extremely short, Felix Mendelssohn called it Beethoven’s most characteristic work, with an emotional range that far exceeds its brief duration. Beethoven composed it in 1810, in the depths of his various personal troubles including encroaching deafness, when he wrote despairingly to a friend: “If I had not read somewhere that no one should quit life voluntarily while he could still do something worthwhile, I would have been dead long ago, and certainly by my own hand. Oh, life is so beautiful, but for me it is poison forever”. Amazingly, after a startlingly dramatic, intense and almost violent opening, the finale ends in an upbeat major key – “that attests to the indomitability of the human spirit, no matter how sorely tried by bad fortune” (M. Berger, Guide to Chamber Music).

The final work on the program is Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 51 by Johannes Brahms. Brahms was so oppressed by the musical heritage of the great composers such as Haydn and Beethoven that it took him over 25 years to publicize the first two of his three quartets. He burned an estimated 20 others. According to Melvin Berger, “the spirit that informs this quartet belongs to Bach, not so much to Beethoven”, but the finale echoes a wild Hungarian czardas bringing the music to a brilliant conclusion.

CLICK HERE to preview the Ariel Quartet performing Beethoven’s Serioso Quartet.

And opening the concert, as part of our Young Artist Program will be The Chroma Quartet. They will be performing the Adagio from Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op.13

The members of the Chroma Quartet are:

Gregory Lewis, Hannah Humphries, violins

John Sellick, viola; David Liam Roberts, cello

Formed in 2014, the Chroma Quartet has been building a large repertoire and creating a unique sound as a string quartet, as well as gaining exposure in and around Winnipeg. Growing up in musical families, the quartet shares a common homeschooling education. The Chroma Quartet has been studying under the tutelage of Dr. Minna Rose Chung at the University of Manitoba.


See you at the concert.