St Christopher

Ligeti Quartet
Event 4
Sunday October 5th, 3.00pm 
Little Missenden Church

Dazzling string quartets
Igor Stravinsky
Double Canon for String Quartet
Alfred Schnittke
Canon in Memoriam Igor Stravinsky
Arne Gieshoff
Unwuchten (world premiere)
Béla Bartók
String Quartet no 4, op94
Ludwig van Beethoven
Grosse Fuge op133

This is an archived event from the 2014 Programme.

Mandhira de Saram violin  Patrick Dawkins violin  Richard Jones viola  Valerie Welbanks cello

Don’t come expecting a Sunday snooze! String quartets can be powerful beasts, and the Ligeti is a formidable young group.

After the earth-shaking Rite of Spring Stravinsky’s next work was a tiny set of string quartet miniatures. Three Pieces draws on the folk elements and jagged rhythms of The Rite – and prefigures The Soldier’s Tale (see Event 5). Inventive, incisive and mercurial, its moods range from droll to forlorn. Had Picasso been a composer he might have written something like this.

The Double Canon shows a different side of Stravinsky – a cool, austere, spiritual, elegiac meditation on mortality.

Then Schnittke’s profoundly moving memorial to Stravinsky – very slow, deep silences, anguished chromatic harmonies, a beautiful distillation of grief, fading to nothing at the last.

Rising young composer Arne Gieshoff (who won the 2012 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize) wrote Unwuchten (‘imbalances’) for the Ligeti Quartet – this is its world première. The score bears a quotation from Bertrand Russell:

“We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and the emptiness; sometimes a voice answers out of the darkness. But it is a voice of one drowning; and in a moment the silence returns.”

“Six of the most exciting pieces of music ever written”, said Philip Setzer (Emerson Quartet) of Bartók’s string quartets. The 4th is a powerful 5-movement arch centred on a haunting piece of ‘night music’, rooted in Bartók’s beloved folk music and using expressive new string sounds.

Beethoven’s remarkable Great Fugue (only about 15 minutes long) is one of his mightiest works: a massive emotional charge, moments of searing beauty, and a titanic struggle between meaning and chaos. “The most perfect miracle in music”, said Stravinsky.

The exciting young Ligeti Quartet is dedicated to performing modern and new music. In 2012 they became Park Lane Group Young Artists. Reviewers have been captivated. Strad Magazine’s review of their Bartok 4th spoke of a “muscularity to the group’s sound”, and a “blazing” Allegro molto.

“Wide palette and translucent sound...with a sure-footed grace” (Hannah Nepil, Financial Times)