Dover Quartet: Joel Link, violin Bryan Lee, violin Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, viola Camden Shaw, cello Performed on Monday, September 9, 2013 Field Concert Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Like J. S. Bach’s Chaconne, Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge (Great Fugue)—originally composed as part of the Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 130—lives in the pantheon of Western music, revered by musicologists, performers, and audiences alike. Composed in 1825 when Beethoven was completely deaf and a mere three years before his death, the work can be seen as the composer’s unfiltered genius spilling onto the page, revealing his profoundly complex inner world. However, unlike Bach’s Chaconne,which was already being praised for its genius and humanity by the early 19th century, Beethoven’s colossal double fugue took the longer road to stardom. “Repellent” and “incomprehensible” were common phrases used by the work’s detractors, viewing the performers more as victims martyred at the thorny hands of Beethoven. The feedback was so intensely negative that Beethoven wrote a new finale to the Op. 130 quartet and published the Grosse Fuge separately in 1827 as Op. 133—one of the few times he ever bowed to such pressure. It would take roughly a century for critical and public opinion to come around. What had once been labeled as the incoherent ramblings of an old master was eventually accepted as one of the most revolutionary and forward-thinking contributions to music. Igor Stravinsky praised it as “an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.” The Grosse Fuge is indeed unrelenting, introspective, and dissonant. And few performers would dispute that it is among the most difficult works, not just of Beethoven but of any composer. But great challenge brings great reward, perhaps none greater than spending time in Beethoven’s own private world.
Ludwig van Beethoven
GROSSE FUGE IN B-FLAT MAJOR, OP. 133
Cello, Viola, and Violin
Recorded Date: 09-09-2013
The Dover Quartet catapulted to international stardom following a stunning sweep of the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, becoming one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world. The New Yorker recently dubbed them “the young American string quartet of the moment,” and The Strad raved that the Quartet is “already pulling away from their peers with their exceptional interpretive maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble.” In 2013-14, the Quartet became the first ever Quartet-in-Residence for the venerated Curtis Institute of Music.
During the 2014-15 season, the Dover Quartet will perform more than 100 concerts throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. Highlights include concerts for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, Schneider Concerts in New York City, and Wigmore Hall in London. The Quartet will also perform together with the pianists Andre Watts, Anne-Marie McDermott, and Jon Kimura Parker; the violists Roberto Díaz and Cynthia Phelps; and the Pacifica Quartet.
In addition, the Quartet will participate in week-long residencies for Chamber Music Northwest, the Phoenix Chamber Music Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Logan, and the Festival Internacional de Musica de Cartagena. The Quartet has been reengaged a remarkable number of times for return appearances throughout the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Great Britain.
Last fall, the Dover Quartet won not only the Grand Prize but all three Special Prizes at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition. The Quartet also won top prizes at the Fischoff Competition and the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, and has taken part in festivals such as Chamber Music Northwest, Artosphere, La Jolla SummerFest, Bravo! Vail, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. During the 2013-14 season, the Quartet acted as the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence at the Caramoor Festival. Additionally, members of the Quartet have appeared as soloists with some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
The Dover Quartet draws from the musical lineage of the Cleveland, Vermeer, and Guarneri Quartets, having studied at the Curtis Institute and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where they were in residence from 2011-2013. The Quartet has been mentored extensively by Shmuel Ashkenasi, James Dunham, Norman Fischer, Kenneth Goldsmith, Joseph Silverstein, Arnold Steinhardt, Michael Tree, and Peter Wiley, and is dedicated to sharing their music with underserved communities and is an active member of Music for Food, an initiative to help musicians fight hunger in their home communities.