There have been many classic chamber music works performed at Con Brio concerts over the years but none more worthy of the description than Franz Schubert’s masterwork, his string quartet No. 14 in D minor, better known as “Death and the Maiden”.
This pillar of the chamber music repertoire is the opening piece of the programme to be performed by the ConTempo Quartet at Con Brio’s next concert which takes place on Friday evening, February 12.
By 1824 Schubert had acquired a reputation for composing wondrous piano and vocal works. His 600 Lieder and his song cycles are among the most expressive in all chamber music. However he also aspired to composing instrumental works that would rival those of his contemporary Beethoven.
For his quartet No. 14 he referred back to a song he had written in his teens which was based on an eight line poem by Mattius Claudius called Death and the Maiden. The poem is a dialogue between a young girl and Death. The girl beseeches Death to leave her alone but Death soothes her with a promise of friendship and gentle sleep.
At this time Schubert was suffering through a serious illness and realised that he was dying. The theme of death is palpable in all four movements of the quartet but they are movements of pure musical genius.
The ConTempo Quartet was formed in Bucharest in 1995 and over the past twenty years has performed world-wide in prestigious venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, Berliner Philharmonie, Palazzo del Quirinale Rome, Carnegie Hall and the Opera House Tel-Aviv. It was appointed as RTÉ’s Quartet in Residence in 2014, in succession to the Vanbrugh Quartet.
The second piece in Friday evening’s programme is Haydn’s Quartet Op. 33, No. 2, also known as The Joke quartet. The colloquial name for this quartet refers to a device at the end of the final movement where the composer causes the listener to wonder, on a number of occasions, whether the piece has ended or not. The story goes that Haydn wrote the ending in order to win a bet that ‘the ladies will always begin talking’ before the music stops!
The final piece on the programme is Concerto for Marimba and Strings by Brazilian composer, Ney Rosauro. For this piece the Quartet will be joined on marimba by Cork born percussionist Alex Petcu-Colan.
Alex is rapidly establishing himself both nationally and internationally as a percussionist of the finest calibre.
He recently won first prize at the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year competition and reached the semi-finals at the Tromp International Percussion Competition, one of the most prestigious international percussion competitions.
His recent appearances as a soloist with both the R.T.E. National Symphony and Concert Orchestras, and his selection as the National Concert Hall Rising Star recitalist for 2015 are just some of the highlights in his career to date. He is also an artist in residence for the Cork School of Music for 2015/2016.
This is another interesting programme from Con Brio – two exceptional string quartets and a contemporary piece for strings and marimba which combines charming melodies and catchy Brazilian rhythms.
This concert takes place in The Model and tickets at €20 (€10 for students, available on the night only) can be obtained from The Model box office on 071-9141405 or online at www.themodel.ie