Back To Top

Intimate sound of string quartets to close year

From classical to contemporary, wide range on offer

Fans of that more intimate form of music, string quartets, are in for a treat, as renowned string quartets are set to perform in Korea this fall and winter.

The Michelangelo String Quartet will perform Thursday at Kumho Art Hall as part of the International Masters Series organized by the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation.

Violinists Mihaela Martin and Daniel Austrich, violist Nobuko Imai and cellist Frans Helmerson are established soloists, chamber musicians and teachers who came together as a string quartet in 2002. Returning to the Seoul stage after a performance here last year, the Michelangelo String Quartet will perform string quartet pieces from various periods, starting with String Quartet No. 63 in B flat Major by Franz Joseph Haydn, a Classical-era composer whose accomplishments in string quartets enjoy a lasting legacy.
Kronos Quartet who will perform at LG Arts Center in Seoul on Nov. 21. (Jay Blakesberg/LG Arts Center)
Kronos Quartet who will perform at LG Arts Center in Seoul on Nov. 21. (Jay Blakesberg/LG Arts Center)

One of those influenced by Haydn’s quartets was Romantic composer Franz Schubert, whose String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, featuring variations on the theme from his own song “Death and the Maiden,” will be performed Thursday.

The Michelangelo String Quartet will also perform Antonin Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F major, also known as “American,” composed during the Czech composer’s stay in a small Iowa town with a large population of Czech emigrants in 1893.

A string quartet of very different stripes performs at the LG Art Center on Nov. 21. Kronos Quartet is a San Francisco-based string quartet founded in 1973 with a mission to reimagine the string quartet experience -- meaning they exclusively perform contemporary string quartets.

In Seoul, violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and Sunny Yang will perform George Crumb’s “Black Angels,” the piece that started it all. Harrington was inspired to form Kronos Quartet after hearing Crumb’s highly original Vietnam War-inspired work featuring bowed water glasses, spoken word passages and electronic effects.

Over the past four decades, Kronos Quartet has collaborated extensively with a number of contemporary composers, among them Steve Reich, whose World War II-inspired “Different Trains” written for the group will be performed at the LG Arts Center. Another original piece composed for the group, “My Desert, My Rose,” by Aleksandra Vrebalov, will also be performed.

In addition to commissioning original works, Kronos Quartet frequently performs pieces that have been arranged and transcribed for them. Be ready to be surprised. The group’s take on Pete Townshend’s “Baba O’Riley,” originally sung by English rock band the Who, Indian classical violinist N. Rajam’s “Dadra in Raga Bhairavi,” arranged for the quartet by Reena Esmail, and multimedia artist Laurie Anderson’s “Flow,” a digital violin solo piece arranged by Garchik, will take the audience on a sweeping musical journey.

Pianist Lim Dong-hyek and the Modigliani Quartet take to the stage at Seongnam Art Center in Gyeonggi Province on Dec. 7. The multiple award-winning Lim, who boasts an extensive Romantic repertoire, will join the French quartet in an all-Schumann program that includes Schumann Piano Quintet E flat major, Op. 44.

Belcea Quartet, formed in 1994 while the individual members were studying at the Royal College of Music in London, will be performing for the first time in Korea on Dec. 8 at Lotte Concert Hall. The program ranges from Haydn String Quartet No. 27 in D major, Op. 20-4 to contemporary classical music composer Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1, also known as “Metamorphoses Nocturnes,” demonstrating the breadth of the group’s repertoire. Koreans audiences will be able to hear two Beethoven quartets, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130 and String Quartet No. 17 in B flat major, Op. 133, being performed only in Korea in Belcea Quartet’s 2017-18 season.

By Kim Hoo-ran (