Saturday 16th February 2019 at 1pm

Keith Pascoe, violin
Simon Aspell, viola
Christopher Marwood, cello

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The Vanbrugh continue their exploration of the great piano quartet repertoire in the company of acclaimed Belfast pianist Michael McHale – recently appointed lecturer at CIT Cork School of Music.

SCHUBERT: Four Impromptus D.899 [1827]

I have known and loved these impromptus since childhood, performing the fourth impromptu in my first ever public recital, and recording all four a couple of years ago in Berlin for the Ergodos label. Like all of Schubert’s music, there is a beautiful, natural simplicity in the way the music unfolds, and the third impromptu in particular is as lyrical and poignant as any of his finest songs. (Michael McHale)

BRAHMS: Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor Op.25 [1856-1861]

This was the work that first brought fame to Brahms. It was premiered in Hamburg by Clara Schumann in 1861, but Brahms played it the following year on his Viennese debut as composer and pianist and it was an instant popular hit, in part thanks to a brilliant finale inspired by Hungarian Gypsy music.

Saturday 9th March 2019 at 1pm

Siobhan Doyle, violin
Siun Milne, violin
Ed Creedon, viola
Christopher Ellis, cello 

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The Lir Quartet return with a wonderfully contrasted programme of works by Britten and Mendelssohn.  

BRITTEN: String Quartet No.3 Op.94 [1975]

Britten’s last completed instrumental work was written in 1975 during his final illness, the first four movements at his home in Aldeburgh and the fifth at Hotel Danieli, Venice. Britten worked on it with the Amadeus Quartet who premiered it at The Maltings, Snape, two weeks after the composer's death. Musicologist Brian Hogwood writes: ‘The third quartet, then, is where Britten officially takes his leave… this is the moment where he gives up his soul, in music of affecting beauty. The last movement ensures he leaves with his head held high, innovating and captivating to the very end’

MENDELSSOHN: String Quartet in D major Op.44 No.1 [1838]

 The 28-year-old Felix Mendelssohn composed his three Opus 44 quartets during a period of great success and happiness in his life and this brilliant D major quartet is decidedly filled with light and and joy [Misha Amory]

Saturday May 11th at 1.10pm

The National String Quartet Foundation introduces two talented young quartets from CIT Cork School of Music. Their programme includes the first of Shostakovich’s fifteen string quartets, the premiere of a new quartet by Cork based composer Ian Wilson, and one of just three quartets that Brahms allowed to be published, having destroyed some twenty earlier attempts.

Kate Fleming, violin
Helen Rutledge, violin
Stephen Kelleher, viola
Callum Owens, cello

SHOSTAKOVICH: Quartet No.1 in C major Op.49 [1938]

Shostakovich’s heroic fifth symphony restored him to favour with the Soviet establishment in 1937 after he came under heavy criticism from Stalin for his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Shostakovich wrote: ‘The whole year after completing Symphony No. 5, I did nothing. I merely wrote the Quartet, consisting of four small sections… It would be foolish to seek anything profound in it. I should call it the ‘Spring Quartet’’ This is music of great charm and brilliance, its superb writing for the string quartet a sure portent of the fourteen extraordinary quartets that followed it.

Molly O’Shea, violin
Caoimhe Browne, violin
Cian McGarry, viola
Zoë Nagle, cello

IAN WILSON: CAPITAL, string quartet no.20 – world premiere

Inspired by the sights and sounds of Cork City, Cork-based composer Ian Wilson’s twentieth string quartet is a collaboration with the Vanir Quartet and is funded by a project award from Cork City Council. The Shandon Bells can be heard in bell-like harmonics and irregular rhythms; the river Lee’s tendency to flood is expressed through gradually rising chordal playing and extremes of dynamic and density and Christchurch and its history brings music of great delicacy, as if heard through the distant centuries.

BRAHMS: String Quartet in A minor Op.51 No.2 [1873]

Proud, defiant, tender and life affirming, Brahms’ A minor quartet is the most popular and accessible of his three string quartets and one of the pinnacles of the string quartet repertoire. As he emerged with his own distinctive voice from the long shadow of Beethoven, he brought his own philosophy to his quartet writing: "A musician is no machine," Brahms once told a musical friend, "he is a human being; he must always have something to say. Whoever has the dissonant note must also have its resolution." To follow each player’s part within the extraordinarily detailed textures of this quartet is to discover that Brahms practised what he preached, and to understand why musicians so love to perform his chamber works.