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New beginnings and endings I​

From Vienna to Berlin in 100 years

Works by F. Schubert (Rosamunde) and A. Schönberg (Quartet No. 3)

In the 1820’s, Schubert abandoned the rigorous contrapuntal and motivic style  that prevailed in the music of his predecessors (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) in favour of longer lines and a more textural and conversational approach.
One hundred years later, Schönberg wrote his first twelve-tone string quartet, a work he said was inspired by Schubert’s ‘Rosamunde’ quartet.


The Art of Fugue BWV 1080

Bach’s perpetual influence 

in works by A. Webern  


solo and duos by Berio, Dutilleux and Penderecki

Bach’s monumental Art of Fugue is here presented alongside Webern’s main works for string quartet. In fact, Webern’s music punctuates Bach’s vast architecture. Although the two composers have a very distinct and different voice from one another, they share the same musical techniques. Webern’s admiration for the music of Bach is well known. In his own words:
“You find everything in Bach: the development of cyclic forms, the conquest of the realm of tonality - the attempt at a summation of the highest order.”


Music at the dawn of WWI

Works by A. Schönberg, A. Webern, I. Stravinsky and O. Respighi

RE + soprano

Schönberg’s second string quartet was written during an extremely disturbing and emotional time in his life in Vienna during 1907-08. The first movement starts as a piece in f sharp minor, but Schönberg pushes the limits of tonality to the extreme in the subsequent movements (for some, his first atonal piece). Unusually, he introduces a vocal role for a soprano in the last two movements. Vienna in 1908 was a city of amazing creativity and dangerous tension: in the same year Gustav Klimt painted “The Kiss” and Sigmund Freud revealed the Oedipus complex. It was also the year when a struggling young artist named Adolf Hitler arrived in the city - for some, a year that lead to the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and placed Vienna and Europe on the road to destruction. Both Stravinsky’s 3 pieces for String Quartet and Respighi’s Il Tramonto (The Sunset) were written in 1914, at the start of the First Great War.


New beginnings and endings II

Music after WWI

Works by G. Fauré, S. Barber, A. Webern and S. Prokofiev

RE + baritone

A fresh look at music composed in the aftermath of WWI in Europe and the USA. Fauré’s string quartet, his last work from 1924, essentially closed an important chapter in French music. Many composers, such as Prokofiev, tried their luck in the USA following the war, but their fortunes were hit hard by The Great Depression. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge was an American philanthropist who devoted her life promoting chamber music and advocating new music. She commissioned numerous important works, including Webern’s op. 28 and Prokofiev’s first string quartet presented by the RE in this program.


The Rise of the String Quartet

Works by H. I. Biber, A. Scarlatti, B. Galuppi and J. Haydn (op. 20)

Haydn’s Op. 20 is regarded by many as the first set of mature string quartets by this plucky innovator and the benchmark model for all future generations of composers. But from where did Haydn’s music, and indeed the form of the string quartet come? RE explores the genesis of the string quartet and those works that influenced the ‘Papa’ of this genre: J. Haydn.


At the time of the French Revolution

Works by J. B. Vanhal, W. A. Mozart, C. Dittersdorf and J. Haydn (op. 64)

In 1785 Vienna, four distinguished composers got together to play string quartets:
violin 1: J. Haydn
violin 2: C. D. Dittersdorf
viola: W. A Mozart
cello: J. B. Vanhal
RE re-examines the relationship between the works of these four composers (all composed between 1788-1790) in the context of one the biggest social and political upheavals in the story of humanity: the French Revolution.


circa 1782

Works by I. Pleyel, W. A. Mozart, P. Vachon and G. M. Cambini

RE takes a fresh look at music composed by French composers (or composers who adopted Paris as their home), which was presented at ‘Le Concert Spirituel’ around 1782. Giuseppe Maria Cambini ’s string quartets were very popular in Paris, as were his symphonies concertante. Allegedly he prohibited one of Mozart’s pieces to be performed at ‘Le Concert Spirituel’. Nevertheless, Mozart praised his challenger’s string quartets. Before Mozart started composing his first quartet dedicated to Haydn in 1782 and after he heard Pleyel’s Op. 1 string quartets, he wrote:
“…if you don’t already know them, try to get them, it’s worth your while. They are well written and very agreeable, you will soon know this author. It will be a very happy thing for music if, when the time arrives, Pleyel should replace Haydn for us.”


Exploring the music of the other Haydn: Michael

Works by Michael and Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn’s position as a pivotal figure of the classic period in music is unquestioned.
But what about his younger brother, Michael?
Joseph regarded his brother’s music highly, to the extent that he felt Michael’s sacred music was superior than his own. The young Mozart was an admirer of Michael’s music, especially his Requiem in c minor, which strongly influenced Mozart’s own Requiem Mass. Michael Haydn was a prolific composer of secular music, some of which the instrumental music was at one point incorrectly attributed to Mozart. RE presents Michael’s works alongside that of his more renowned brother, in the hope of restoring the other sibling’s output for posterity, and deservedly recognising this highly-skilled and inventive man.




New Beginnings and Endings I 

Haydn and Beethoven

String Quartet

New Beginnings and Endings II

Webern, Biber, Bach, Schubert*

* or Debussy, Berg, Schönberg** 

String Quartet  ** + soprano in the case of Schönberg No. 2

New Beginnings and Endings III

Schubert* & Schönberg

* or Schumann’s Frauenlieben und -leben  

String Quartet + soprano


B-A-C-H Prisms I 

Bach’s Art of Fugue & Webern

String Quartet

B-A-C-H Prisms II

Bach’s Art of Fugue, Berio, Dutilleux, Penderecki

String Quartet


Made in the USA 

Barber, Cage, Reich, Schönberg

String Quartet


Passion of Christ

Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross, Pärt, Johann Christoph Bach, Schütz

String Quartet + voice


Folk Tunes and Gypsies

Schmelzer, Haydn, Biber, Sor, Boccherini

String Quartet + Classical Guitar/Theorbo


By Special arrangement

Beethoven, Mozart, Ziani, Rosenmüller, Heinrich Bach, Pagh

String Quintet


Secret Lovers

Bertali, Brahms, Schönberg

String Sextet


Explosive Creativity

Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, Ligeti, Schnittke

15 players


The Birth of the Symphony

Haydn, Handel, Richter, Monteverdi

14 players 

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