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Skidmore College

Skidmore to present complete Beethoven string quartet cycle

October 27, 2014
Michael Emery
Michael Emery

The Talich Quartet, known internationally as one of Europe’s finest chamber ensembles, will launch an ambitious music initiative—live performances of the complete Beethoven string quartet cycle. As the inaugural artist in the project, the Talich Quartet will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, in the Arthur Zankel Music Center.

This project, part of Skidmore’s ELM Chamber Music Residency, will feature six internationally renowned guest artists who will present the full cycle of Beethoven’s 16 string quartets over the course of the next two years.

Violinist Michael Emery, senior artist-in-residence at Skidmore, is coordinating the Beethoven string quartet project, which he envisions as both an academic and entertainment high point. He said, “The superb acoustic of Zankel's Ladd Hall has been experienced and recognized by our guest artists, and this is especially true for string quartets that have performed here as part of the annual String Festival (this year's features the American String Quartet and is part of the Beethoven series). The extremes of subtle nuance and fiery passion, the clarity of complex textures and exquisitely balanced voicing represented in the Beethoven Quartet are conveyed beautifully in our hall.”

Emery continued, “We were approached by Melvin Kaplin, who represents the artist quartets in the series, who was excited to offer the cycle at Skidmore, with six concerts by six different internationally renowned quartets. The generosity of the ELM Chamber Music Fund allowed us to set up this cycle, which also affords the opportunity for our talented student chamber groups to meet and have coaching with each of these artist quartets.

“We are pleased to offer this complete cycle to our loyal and knowledgeable concert community,” he added.

The Talich Quartet, recognized as the embodiment of the great Czech musical tradition, consists of Jan Talich, violin; Roman Patočka, violin; Vladimir Bukač, viola; Petr Prause, cello.

The quartet was founded in 1964 by Jan Talich during his studies at the Prague Conservatory and named for his uncle Vaclav Talich, the renowned chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. During the 1990s, there was a gradual and complete change in personnel, rejuvenating the quartet while continuing the tradition of its predecessors through involvement in a wide spectrum of musical engagements and recording activities. Jan Talich, the current first violinist, is the son of the quartet’s founder.

Talich's violin is by Joseph Gagliano, 1780; Patočka's violin is of unidentified origin, Italy, c. 1800; Bukač's viola is by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini and Santino Lavazza, 1725; and Prause's cello is by Martin Stoss, Vienna, 1821.

The quartet is regularly invited to prestigious chamber music festivals such as the Pablo Casals Festival in Prades, Prague Spring Music Festival, and the International String Quartet Festival in Ottawa; and frequently visits such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Salle Gaveau in Paris, and London’s Wigmore Hall.  

The Talich’s program features the Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4; Quartet in F. minor, Op. 95, “Serioso;” and Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130, “Liebquartet.”

Said Emery, “Beethoven’s string quartets are universally acknowledged to be among the most profound pieces in Western music.”

Tickets for the Nov. 1 concert are $8 adults, $5 seniors & Skidmore community, free for students and children. For advance reservations or more information, please click here or call the Zankel Box Office at (518)-580-5321. The Zankel Music Center is wheelchair accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.

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