The Complete Beethoven Cycle 7
RTÉ Contempo Quartet – Beethoven Music for a Later Age
Beethoven String Quartet No. 12, Op. 127 in E-flat
Deirdre Gribbin Calum’s Light
Beethoven String Quartet No. 16, Op. 135 in F
Testimonies to his belief in the expressive power of music, Beethoven’s last Quartets are profound musical and philosophical statements, the Opp. 127 and 135 Quartets marking his creative apotheosis. Deirdre Gribbin’s Calum’s Light evokes an Hebridean tale about a mysterious spectral light.
Beethoven’s last string quartets – composed in the four years before his death in March, 1827 – herald the dawn of complexity and modernity.
The first – No. 12 (Op. 127) – sets the tone for what follows. Deeply introspective yet brimming with emotions of every hue, it marked the beginning of the end for Beethoven’s compositional life. It also introduces a sense of intractable mystery in music of sinewy toughness brought to philosphical heights by the majestic Op. 135 Quartet.
In the pinnacle of the string quartet form, the Sixteenth (and final) Quartet is a rhetorical masterpiece that asks and then answers its own query ‘Must it be?’ with a resounding ‘It must be!’
Inspired by a Hebridean folktale, Deirdre Gribbin’s Calum’s Light (2007) is richly mysterious and magical.
Beethoven’s sixteen quartets and the Grosse Fugue still stand today as some of the most extraordinary and innovative music ever composed. Written over a span of thirty years in roughly three blocks, Beethoven took the form, perfected by “Papa Haydn” and developed further by Mozart, completely revising and transforming it.
Nos. 1-6, written when he was in his late twenties were early explorations into the form and although lighter than many of the later works there is always a dark side too. The Middle Quartets have at their core the three Razumovskys, commissioned by Count (later Prince) Razumovsky which included Russian themes. Already aware of his deafness, he wrote on one of the sketches:
“Make no secret of your deafness, not even in art!”
The five Late Quartets and Grosse Fugue undoubtedly represent the ultimate in quartet writing, the very best of Beethoven’s genius, described by him to his musicians as:
“music not for you, but for a later age”
Ten Irish works complement each of the nine programmes, with works dating from 1934 to the present day, including three new RTÉ commissions.
ABOUT RTÉ CONTEMPO QUARTET
The RTÉ Contempo Quartet is one of the most exciting and vibrant chamber ensembles performing today. The members studied together in Bucharest, formed a quartet in 1995 and were appointed as Galway Music Residency’s Quartet in Residence in 2003 and RTÉ’s Quartet in Residence in May 2014. They have given over 120 performances for RTÉ so far with another 40+ planned for the 2017-18 season.
“Full of telling detail…this was a performance undertaken out of love for the music” (Irish Times, 2016)
In its three previous seasons for RTÉ the Quartet has focused on the core repertoire of Haydn and Bartók in particular, with the complete Beethoven Cycle to perform during 2017-18 including three new commissions by Irish composers. At the heart of every performance is the desire to communicate to its audience both the love of, and delight in the music, and the Quartet has gained many new fans with its fresh and enthusiastic approach to a wide variety of repertoire. They continue in their role as educators with quartet workshop sessions in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin as well as one-to-one teaching in the RIAM and DIT colleges.
Published on 22 February 2018