A golden cage | Culture

The quartets are more than four musicians and sixteen strings. They are formed by people with their passions, fears, anxieties and frustrations. We've seen it in the movies, in Yaron Zilberman's movie, A Late Quartet (2012), with Christopher Walken and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was premiered in Spain as The last concert, Y in the documentary 4 (2015), by Daniel Kutschinski, filmed during a tour of the Ebène Quartet in Italy. But we can also read about it in Sonia Simmenauer's book, Muss is sein ?. Leben im Quartett, where he recognizes that being part of a quartet exceeds the musical virtues of the individual and tests his human qualities: "It implies developing a life in common that is unlike any other: work in music, emotions, stage fright, traveling together , ambitions, fear of failure, discouragement, enjoyment of music and success. Life in a quartet requires a professional and economic association, but it also influences all areas of the individual's life. "

It was not difficult to remember that date when we saw the members of the Belcea Quartet with their instruments on their back chatting amicably out of the historical building of the Bilbao Philharmonic Society on Wednesday night. The Romanian violinist Corina Belcea, taken by her husband, the French cellist Antoine Lederlin, and both flanked by the Swiss violinist Axel Schacher and the Polish violist Krzysztof Chorzelski. The four make up one of the best chamber ensembles in the world, whose average age is around 42 and with almost 25 successful career. But of the original formation, which arose in the classrooms of the Royal Academy of Music, only the violinist who brings her name and masterfully leads the group remains. Chorzelski arrived almost at the beginning, in 1996, and for that he changed the violin for the viola. Lederlin replaced Alasdair Tait in 2006, after linking it with the prestigious Guildhall School. And Schacher, the youngest of the group, joined in 2010, after the departure of Laura Samuel to enroll in the Nash Ensemble. These changes, far from affecting the whole, have strengthened and consolidated it. And we can see it by watching or listening to its recent and excellent integrals of Beethoven, Brahms and Britten (Alpha / Unitel).

Corina Belcea commented last year, in an interview published in German by Classicpoint.net, how her life is within a quartet. And not only underlined the conjunction of four personalities, both artistic and human, but also their evolution: "It's a combination that keeps changing as we all advance. And each one of us must contribute to the development of the group, both at the musical, business and technical levels. We all have weaknesses and strengths, but the important thing is that together we can cover all the necessary aspects. " And so it was in his only Spanish performance that ended his last European tour of 2018, after going through Paris and the Swiss towns of Vevey and Geneva with a program ideally conceived with three late quartets by Mozart, Janáček and Mendelssohn. In Bilbao they began with an ascending version of the second of the Prussian quartets of the Salzburg, the K. 589 of 1790, which did not begin to take off until the minuet, with that chromatic trio seasoned by a surprising rhetorical pause. Already in the allegro assai Finally, the group found the ideal balance within the clear and refined acoustics of the chamber hall of the Bilbao Philharmonic, which was built in 1904 and has nothing to envy the famous Wigmore Hall in London. It was the development of the last movement, with those changes of humor and contrapuntal winks, which made the difference in a set that follows the old musical tradition of their mentors, the Alban Berg and Amadeus quartets, although they read their scores from modern iPads and pass the pages with digital pedals.

The Second Quartet, by Janáček, entitled Intimate letters, it was where the current maturity of the Belcea Quartet could best be verified. Precisely, the set settled in Great Britain began its phonography, in 2001, with an extreme and stark version of the quartets of the Moravian composer in ZigZag Territoires. This composition, from 1928, released posthumously, portrays with admirable virtuosity the love drive of the sexagenarian composer by the twenty-year-old Kamila Stösslová among the vapors of the spa of Luhačovice. The Belcea now delve much more into the narrative dimension of the work than into the timbral effects. It was noticed, especially, in that obsessive barcarola with which the third movement starts and that interrupts, with passion and violence, the composer's declaration of love. But also in the rustic dance of allegro final, more and more inflamed by trills, up to that impressive passage of crazy and dissonant tremolos with which Janáček represents his ecstasy, with his heart torn out, bloodied and throbbing on his head.

But the best of the night came in the second part with the last quartet completed by Mendelssohn, his opus 80, who wrote in September 1847, during the duel for the sudden death of his sister Fanny. A rabid, rough, bitter and unbalanced composition that ideally represents the late style of the composer, who died two months later at age 38. The Belcea took that Mendelssohnian fury at face value in an open grave reading of the score. Not only did they implode in the coda presto of the initial movement or in that minuet, deranged and sardonic, which is the subsequent allegro assai, but reached symphonic heights in the finale. The sky last night they reserved it for the adage, one of the deepest elegies of Mendelssohn, which turned into a musical moment hard to forget. And, as a tip, they gave away the long cantabile, from opus 33 no. 5, by Haydn, which Chorzelski presented in perfect Spanish and which Corina sang to the violin as an operatic aria. It was their last concert in 2018 and seeing them together at the start, as good friends, reflects an additional solidity, as Milan already said Škampa, the legendary violist of the recently deceased Smetana Quartet, that a quartet "is the most beautiful prison that exists", in the case of the Belcea Quartet, a golden cage.


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