Ariel Quartet to Perform Wednesday
The Ariel Quartet will perform at VMI Wednesday. -- Photo courtesy of the Ariel Quartet.
LEXINGTON, Va., Oct. 23, 2012 – The Ariel Quartet, which has earned an international reputation for the brilliance and subtlety of its playing, will give a concert in the Gillis Theater in VMI's Marshall Hall Wednesday, Oct. 24, beginning at 7:45 p.m.
The concert will be dedicated to the memory of Col. Thomas B. Gentry, recently deceased, who at the time of his retirement in1998 had taught in the VMI Department of English and Fine Arts for 50 years.
Unusually, the Quartet’s VMI program consists of only two works, both of them particular favorites of Tom Gentry: Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 36, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131.
The Britten, in three movements, is generally regarded as the most original of the composer’s three string quartets. As its final movement, titled “Chacony,” suggests, it was written to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell. It consists of 21 variations on a simple theme.
Music historians and lovers of chamber music generally agree that Beethoven’s last six quartets are among the greatest ever written. The Op.131 is arguably the most accessible, inventive, and consistently absorbing of the lot. The composer himself claimed that it was his favorite.
Unusually, it is in seven movements, as opposed to the traditional four, and there are no breaks between movements. Also unusual is its length: it requires about 40 minutes’ playing time, and is therefore the second-longest of all of Beethoven’s string quartets. The work opens with a hypnotic slow fugue, includes a delightful set of variations on a folklike tune, and closes with an allegro the astonishing energy of whose opening measures has been called “almost savage.”
After hearing the Op.131 Franz Schubert famously exclaimed, “After this, what is left for us to write?”
Formed in Israel and trained in both Israel and the United States, the Ariel Quartet is currently in residence at the University of Cincinnati. It has performed widely in Israel, Europe, and North America at such venues as the Louvre, Frankfurt’s Kaisersaal, Jordan Hall in Boston, and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and has won several prestigious prizes, including first prize in the Franz Schubert Competition in Graz, Austria.
Admission is free.