The Dover Quartet, founded in 2008 at the Curtis Institute of Music, is widely regarded as one of the most remarkably talented string quartets ever to emerge at such a young age. They have amassed an impressive array of prizes. The Strad magazine recently raved that the Dover Quartet is “already pulling away from their peers with the exceptional interpretive maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble.” For this concert the Dover Quartet is joined by pianist Victor Asuncion, hailed by the Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” and who is recognized for innate musical sensitivity, fiery temperament, and superb technique. His has performed with many chamber ensembles, including the Emerson Quartet, and is also sought after as a piano, vocal, and chamber music coach.
Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1 Joseph Haydn
String Quartet No. 3, Op. 46 Viktor Ullmann
Ballade No. 3 in A Flat Major, Op. 47 (solo piano) Frédéric Chopin
Piano Quintet No. 2, in A Flat Major, Op. 47 Antonin Dvořák
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Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015
Eric Ruske, Jennifer Frautschi, and Gloria Chien Trio (French horn, violin, piano) Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015
Jon Manasse/Jon Nakamatsu Duo (clarinet, piano) with Leonardo Altino, cello Tues., Jan. 26, 2016
Escher String Quartet with Jason Vieaux, guitar Thursday, Feb. 23, 2016
Jerusalem Quartet Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016
3775 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
Harris Concert Hall – University of Memphis
Free parking in the University of Memphis parking lot on the north side of Central Avenue.
Click here for parking map. Wheelchair accessible.
Quartet in G Major, Op. 76, No. 1 (1796-97) Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
This quartet is from Hadyn’s last complete set of string quartets, known as the Erdody quartets, dedicated to a patron the Hungarian Count Erdody. At the time of the commission, Haydn was employed at the court of Prince Nicolau Esterhazy II and was composing the oratorio The Creation. The quartet is justly admired for its intensity, invention, and drive, while maintaining a wonderfully pleasurable and always tasteful tone and finish. It calls to mind the poet Goethe’s description of the four intertwined voices of a string quartet as a stimulating conversation between four intelligent people (Letter to C. F. Zelter, Nov. 9, 1829). After hearing this quartet, I think you will agree that Haydn was excessively modest when he surmised, in his old age, that his “labors may one day be the source from which the weary and worn may derive a few moment’s rest and refreshment.”
String Quartet No. 3, Op. 46 (1943) Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944)
Viktor Ullmann’s life powerfully informs the engaging spirit of this composition. He was born in what is now the border of the Czech Republic and Poland, of parents who were of Jewish descent but had converted to Roman Catholicism before he was born. His father, as an assimilated Jew, was able to have a career as a colonel in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, serving in World War I. Ullmann, like such other assimilated German-speaking Czech Jews as Kakfa and Mahler, found himself equally estranged from Czech nationalism, German anti-Semitism, and Jewish orthodoxy. He volunteered for the army in 1916, served at the Italian front, and was promoted to Lieutenant. Back in Vienna in 1918 he studied composition with the avant-garde Arnold Schönberg. During the 1920s Ullmann was based in Prague, conducting and composing. In the early 1930s he subscribed to a combination of idealism and mysticism that sought to bring precision and clarity to the study of spiritual experience. He considered the arts as central to human spiritual and ethical development. After unsuccessful efforts to find work in London or South Africa, in September 1942 he was deported to a Nazi concentration camp, Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic. There he was assigned as a concert organizer, pianist, and lecturer, and also he composed several works, including this String Quartet No. 3, completed in January 1943. In an essay entitled “Goethe and Ghetto”, written in the final months of his life, Ullman expressed his belief that the desolation and burden of daily life in the concentration camp was something to be confronted and overcome — here “where anything connected with the muses is in utter contrast to the surroundings: here is true school for masters.” On October 16, 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz, in one of the last transports, and was killed two days later. The music of his String Quartet No. 3 is a profoundly moving and uplifting expression of his reserves of spiritual strength.
Ballade No. 3 in A Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841) Frédéric Chopin (1810-49)
This beautiful and expressive ballade for solo piano will convince you that Chopin richly deserves his reputation as “the poet of the piano.” It is one of his four ballades, which were composed between 1831 and 1842 and which are among the most enduring but also challenging pieces in the piano repertoire. A few weeks after this evening’s performance Victor Asuncion will perform all four of them at a concert in Alaska.
Piano Quintet No. 2, in A Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841) Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Dvořák labeled the second movement “Dumka: Andante con moto”. In classical music the term “Dumka”, from the name of a Slavic folk ballad tradition, has come to mean instrumental music with sudden changes between gently plodding, dreamy melancholy and fast, happy exuberance. The third movement is marked “Furiant,” which is a fast Bohemian folk dance. And the final movement has a polka. Get out your dancing shoes! Dvořák composed much of this work at his summer house in the scenic wooded countryside, where he enjoyed idyllic happiness. Listen for the serenity that can be said to intensify, in the last two movements, to an expression of spontaneous joy.
The Dover Quartet swept the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, winning the Grand Prize as well as all three Special Prizes for the best performances of Haydn, of Schubert, and of newly commissioned work. The Dover String Quartet was formed at the Curtis Institute of Music and only two years later won the Grand Prize at the 2010 National Chamber Music Association’s highly prestigious Fischoff Competition. The Dover Quartet also won prizes at the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. Recent performances include those for such influential series as the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Washington Performing Arts Society, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Northwest, Peoples’ Symphony, Schneider Concerts (New School, New York), Kneisel Hall (Maine), and the Houston Friends of Chamber Music. In addition, the Quartet has been named the first Quartet-in-Residence at the venerated Curtis Institute of Music and the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-In-Residence at the Caramoor Festival for the 2013-14 season. Highlights of the 2013-14 season include a concert at New York’s Town Hall with Leon Fleisher and a debut at the Heidelberg Festival, Germany.
The group’s recording of Mendelssohn and Debussy quartets received high praise: “The maturity in these interpretations is phenomenal.”The Strad raved that the Quartet is “sublime” and is “already pulling away from their peers with their exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement and taut ensemble.” Members of the Quartet have appeared as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic.
For this concert the Dover Quartet is joined by Pianist Victor Asuncion, who has appeared in major concert halls in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and the Philippines. He played his orchestral debut at the age of 18 with the Manila Chamber Orchestra and his New York recital debut in Carnegie Hall in 1999. In 2014 he was awarded designation as a Steinway Artist. He is Associate Professor of Piano and Director of Collaborative Arts Studies at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis.
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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.