March 22, 2014: Calidore String Quartet

Passion and Joy

Calidore String Quartet Photo: Jeffrey Fasano

Beethoven: Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18
Golijov: Tenebrae
Mendelssohn:  Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13

What a treat we have in store with the next Virtuosi Concert featuring the Calidore String Quartet. They are a young ensemble from Los Angeles, formed in 2010, yet they quickly went on to win a half dozen of the world’s most prestigious chamber music competitions!

“We’re already in the presence of a great quartet,” wrote Claude Gingras (La Presse, Montreal), following their September performance at McGill University’s International String Quartet Academy. “It was a miracle of unified thought.”
The quartet has three Americans, and one Canadian, cellist Estelle Choi from Calgary. We met them in June in Banff where they were doing a residency. (Kathy, Michael and I were in transit from Lake Louise when the Alberta floods closed the highway and diverted us to Banff for a few days.)
In selecting Golijov’s Tenebrae for us, Ms Choi said that the Calidore was drawn to Golijov’s fascination with the celestial world. “The piece reflects the innocence and wonder he experienced when he took his son to the new planetarium in New York,” she said. “People will be able to visualize the Earth as a blue dot moving in a gradual orbit in space.”  She added that “…there is a jarring dark moment in the middle, echoing his painful experience in Israel of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only a week earlier. But overall, the piece is beautiful and deeply moving.” It also feels closely linked emotionally to the Beethoven and Mendelssohn quartets on the program.

Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 18 No. 1 (c. 1799) was actually the second one of six he composed. He published it as the first because it was the biggest and most impressive work of the set and served to proclaim his string quartets as something new in the musical world, distinct from the traditions of Haydn and Mozart. According to M. Berger’s Guide to Chamber Music, in the deeply passionate and tragic Adagio, Beethoven wrote that he had in mind “les derniers soupirs!” (“the last breath”) in the burial vault in Romeo and Juliet.

The eighteen-year-old Felix Mendelssohn completed his Op. 13 quartet in 1827, just months following Beethoven’s death. He was overwhelmed by recently hearing Beethoven’s monumental late quartets and drew part of his inspiration from them. The piece is also permeated by a three-note theme – “Ist es wahr?” (Is it True?”) – based on a poem of that name written by a close friend, Johann Gustav Droyson.
M. Berger suggests that the passion and poignancy in this quartet may well surpass in sincerity the feelings expressed in many of Mendelssohn’s later works.

Great music, performed by a precociously great ensemble – that’s Virtuosi Concerts.

You can  see/listen to Golijov’s Tenebrae on youtube performed by the Odeon Quartet in Moscow.

Enjoy our soul-food.

See you Saturday night!


This concert is sponsored by CGA Manitoba.