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Philharmonia Quartett Berlin

Berlin Philharmonic String Quartet  

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014  7:30 pm

Harris Concert Hall, University of Memphis


The Founded in 1984 by the principal concertmaster and the string section leaders of the Berlin Philharmonic, the quartet has celebrated a critically acclaimed career and has established itself among the world’s premier string quartets. Annual appearances include the Berlin Festival, the Salzburg Festival, the Bath Festival, and London’s Wigmore Hall. They have made many recordings and thrill audiences throughout the world with their incredible artistry. Yehudi Menuhin told them: “I’d like to hear music always played as beautifully as you play.”


Beethoven, String Quartet No. 11, Op. 95

Beethoven, String Quartet No. 16, Op. 135

Beethoven, String Quartet No. 1, Op. 18

Concerts International 2014-2015 Season

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014        Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014          Philharmonia Quartett Berlin (Berlin Philharmonic Quartet)

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015      Cann Sisters Piano Duo

Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2015         East Coast Chamber Orchestra

Wednesday, Apr. 8, 2015      Dover Quartet with Victor Asuncion, piano



3775 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111

Harris Concert Hall – University of Memphis

Parking Information

Free parking in the University of Memphis parking lot on the north side of Central Avenue.

Click here for parking map.    Wheelchair accessible.

Program Notes for Kavafian-Schub-Shifrin Trio

A French Connection

The works on display in this concert seem in some ways very different, yet they have much in common. Take the two trios that are tonight’s open and closing chamber works. Both are re-workings of material that accompanied longer dramatic works. Three of tonight’s composers had a fondness for jazz and incorporated things they picked up from jazz in their classical works. Cesar Franck’s career predated jazz, but as an organist, he was known to be an impressive improviser. So it doesn’t seem a stretch to think he would have been sympathetic to what Duke Ellington or the New Orleans players were doing had he lived in a later time. And all but Stravinsky were influential conservatory faculty members.

Darius Milhaud was a native of France, but the Nazi invasion caused him and his family to relocate in California where he taught composition at Mills College. Two of his more notable students were Dave Brubeck (who named his first son Darius in honor of his teacher) and Burt Bacharach. Milhaud gave Bacharach two important don’ts: “Don’t be afraid of writing something people can remember and whistle,” and “Don’t ever feel discomfited by a melody.” The suite featured here derives from the incidental music Milhaud wrote for a play by Jean Anouilh (Le voyageur sans baggage) and reveals both Milhaud’s love of jazz and respect for melody.

          A Listening Guide for Milhaud, Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano

If music could be food, then Milhaud’s suite is a plate of hor d’ouerves. Each bite is a movement:
Movement 1: a saucy little race
Movement 2: a velvety cheese dip
Movement 3: a smooth legato piece of salmon with hollandaise.
Movement 4: a frolicking slice of cucumber in a dill sauce
Movement 5: too many tastes. I think I’ll flirt with the waitress.

Cesar Franck belongs to the late romantic period of the later 1800s, but he was a late romantic with a difference. He composed his one violin sonata as a wedding gift for the violin virtuoso Eugene Ysaye. On receiving the music the morning of the wedding, Ysaye enlisted the aid of a wedding guest who was a formidable pianist, held a quick rehearsal, and played the sonata during the wedding. Although based on limited thematic material, the Franck found endless possibilities in the material and his combination of form and creativity paved the way for much of what followed when other composers wrote for violin. The Franck sonata quickly became part of every important violinist’s repertoire. Indeed, Heifetz played it at his final public recital in 1972.

A Listening Guide for Franck, Violin Sonata

Movement 1: melodic and understated
Movement 2: passion between two virtuosos
Movement 3: introspective recitative
Movement 4: melodic, patriotic; a full and satisfying experience

Francis Poulenc, like Milhaud, belonged to a group of French composers called The Six. Also like Milhaud, Poulenc liked and respected jazz. In fact, the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in B-flat was commissioned by Benny Goodman, one of the giants of jazz. This was Poulenc’s last work, and the plan was for Goodman and Poulenc, an accomplished pianist, to premier the work. Sadly, Poulenc died in January 1963, so that couldn’t happen. However, in April of that year, Goodman did present the piece with Leonard Bernstein handling the piano part.

            A Listening Guide for Poulenc, Clarinet Sonata

Well, this is different right from the beginning. The clarinet is having a wonderful time. Good melodies. Fun. This is likable. I think I’ll stay and listen to the whole piece.

Igor Stravinsky was twice an émigré. He first left his native Russia for France and ultimately moved to America and became a U.S. citizen. Like Milhaud and Poulenc, he was fond of jazz, and one section of L’histoire du soldat is labeled “ragtime.”  Werner Reinhart, a Swiss philanthropist, underwrote the 1918 premiere, which took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. A year later, he funded a series of concerts presenting a program of Stravinsky’s chamber music. The program included a suite of five pieces from the original work scored for violin, clarinet, and piano. This instrumentation was to honor the fact that Reinhart was a well thought of amateur clarinetist.

A Listening Guide for Stravinsky, A Soldier’s Tale

This was first a theatrical work to be played, danced and spoken. The libretto relates the parable of a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil in return for unlimited economic gain. But there is no happiness in just wealth especially when one loses his family and his love. However, the soldier eventually tricks the devil at his own game, wins the girl, and gets his violin.


Kavafian – Schub – Shifrin Trio

About the Trio

After 25 years of friendship and music-making, Ani Kavafian, André-Michel Schub and David Shifrin – each a true virtuoso and a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – come together as a trio with undeniable chemistry. “The spontaneity, the excitement and the fun we have playing together is beyond what we ever anticipated,” they said. Combined they have performed with nearly every major orchestra around the world and in recital at the major concert halls. Violinist Ani Kavafian is one of the most sought after chamber musicians in the country as well as a frequent soloist and professor of violin at Yale University. Clarinetist David Shifrin has appeared in critically acclaimed recitals across the country and is a frequent orchestra soloist with major orchestras. As a piano recitalist, orchestra soloist and chamber musician, André-Michel Schub has been praised by critics, and audiences since his career began over three decades ago.

Ani Kavafian has performed with virtually all of America’s leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Los Angeles Chamber, St. Louis, Delaware, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Utah, and Rochester orchestras. Among the many premieres she has given are: Henri Lazarof’s Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra, and Tod Machover’s Concerto for Hyper Violin and Orchestra, both of which she has recorded, as well as premieres of Aaron Kernis’ Double Concerto for Violin and Guitar, and Michelle Ekizian’s Red Harvest Concerto.

Born in France, André-Michel Schub came to the United States with his family when he was eight months old; New York City has been his home ever since. He began his piano studies with his mother when he was 4 and later continued his work with Jascha Zayde. Mr. Schub first attended Princeton University, and then transferred to the Curtis Institute, where he studied with Rudolf Serkin from 1970 to 1973. As a recitalist, orchestral soloist and chamber musician, André-Michel Schub has been praised by critics and audiences around the world since his career began.

The San Francisco Chronicle calls David Shifrin’s playing “a revelation in just how beautifully the clarinet can be played.” One of only two wind players to have been awarded the Avery Fisher Prize since the award’s inception in 1974, Mr. Shifrin is in constant demand as an orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber music collaborator. Orchestras with whom he has performed include the Dallas, Seattle, Houston, Milwaukee, Denver, and Memphis symphonies, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestras. His international appearances and collaborations are too numerous to list.


Concerts International brings the world’s best chamber music to Memphis. This long-running chamber music series is an important part of the richly varied music scene in Memphis, from the Blues, Elvis and Graceland, Sun Studio, Beale Street, Stax Records Museum and Academy, the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, and the Gibson Guitar Factory and Museum to Opera Memphis, the Memphis Symphony, and more.

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