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      Endellion String Quartet in Cambridge

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      February 26, 2020

      Wednesday   7:30 PM

      11 West Road
      Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB3 9DP

      • No Performers Listed
      Endellion String Quartet

      ‘To experience all of Beethoven’s sixteen quartets — collectively, surely, one of the peaks of human endeavour — is to take a wonderful opportunity both to enter into each of these extraordinarily individual universes, and also to hear them in the context of one another. This enables us to appreciate the family resemblances between them, which make them all unmistakably ‘Beethoven’ — reflecting his profound humanity, integrity, moral seriousness, humour, light-heartedness, love, forcefulness, energy and self-belief. It also highlights the myriad differences of character, mood, style and sound-world which make one marvel at the sheer range, fertility and freshness of Beethoven’s imagination.

      In arranging the programmes, the Quartet’s aim is to give each concert as much variety and balance as possible by choosing pieces of contrasting character, and from different periods.

      The six Op 18 quartets are extraordinary masterpieces and not just preludes to what was to follow. Writing them between the ages of 28 and 30, Beethoven had studied and absorbed the language and style of the great quartets of Haydn and Mozart, but the Op.18s are saturated with Beethoven’s own personality. At this time he was working and performing with colossal energy, was constantly in and out of love, and already sure of his own powers and their true value.

      The ‘Razumovsky’ quartets and Opp 74 and 95, written between the ages of 35 and 40 broke boundaries in scale and profundity, and in their demands on players and listeners alike. Opp 74 and 95 grope towards yet further innovations. In this period, Beethoven was struggling to come to terms with his growing deafness and the social isolation it was imposing on this wonderfully warm and gregarious man. His cry of pain in the ‘Heiligenstadt’ testament is heart-rending; yet no note of self-pity enters his music.

      Beethoven confided his most intimate thoughts to his ‘late’ quartets, written between the ages of 52 and 57 (the age at which he died). His imaginative powers — free of all conventions, practical restraints and compromises — seemed to deepen as his circumstances deteriorated. Ill health, loneliness, financial worries, the increasing rarity of performances of his works especially in a Vienna besotted with Rossini, the attempted suicide of his beloved nephew and ward, Karl — all these were the background to these late works of genius which so baffled Beethoven’s contemporaries, and about which he calmly explained they ‘were written for a later age.’

      ‘There’s always a feeling when listening to the Endellion Quartet that you’re listening to the Urtext method of quartet playing. Maybe 35 years of playing together has brought a uniformity of thought and instinct to them as a group that allows them to play as a single entity’ — Gramophone Magazine

      ‘The Endellion is a quartet of the first rank: precision, clarity of articulation, and beauty of sound characterize both the individual playing and the stimulating interplay of the four team-mates.’ — La Presse, Montreal

      ‘ … The Endellion’s warm sound and impeccable style … they function as an indivisible expressive unit, playing with that innate understanding of each other that only comes from a long experience of making music together … superb … real eloquence and passion … outstandingly done’ — Guardian

      'The Endellion is arguably the finest quartet in Britain, playing with poise, true intonation, excellent balance and a beautiful tone’ — New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

      Cost: £28, £26 (65+), £14 (disabled), £6 (student and under 16s); half price (standard or 65+) available for restricted view seats

      Categories: Performing Arts

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