Ficino Quartet - Beethoven Reflected I
The first part of the National String Quartet Foundation’s contribution to marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) presents three concerts, featuring seven new commissions by some of Ireland’s leading composers. The series is presented with the support of the Arts Council, RTÉ and Cork City Council.
Curated by Ergodos, the first concert is centred upon Ficino Ensemble’s thoughtful and impassioned performance of Beethoven’s fifteenth string quartet (1825) with its famous “Holy song of thanksgiving” that opens the third movement. The first four movements of this breath-taking masterwork are preceded by specially commissioned works by Amanda Feery, Garrett Sholdice, Cora Venus Lunny and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly.
A new, seamless whole is formed. The new works sit out of time, resonating in sympathy with the Beethoven quartet; refracting and reflecting its light; suggesting a multiplicity of connections, both internal and external.
Amanda Feery’s new piece opens the concert, tracing over faint grainy remnants of the Beethoven quartet – an archaeology of sound, emotion and meaning.
“The Secret Cause”, Garrett Sholdice’s interlude between first and second movements, meditates on Beethoven’s “Heiligenstadt Testament”, written some two decades prior to the fifteenth quartet, in which the composer expresses despair at his growing deafness, his growing isolation.
Cora Venus Lunny’s new piece, “Theft”, precedes the third movement and its famous opening “Heiliger Dankgesang” hymn. “I wanted to go to some deep and even unpleasant places,” she says, “in order to appreciate the light of Beethoven’s gloriousness even more and be lifted up.”
In “Foreign Hand”, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly gently sustains the rich sonorities of the third movement – an extended moment of repose before the final tour-de-force of the fourth and fifth movements.
The Ficino Ensemble
Elaine Clarke, violin
Lynda O’Connor, violin
Nathan Sherman, viola
Ailbhe McDonagh, cello