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Ainsi la nuit…

06/14/2012 -  & June 15, 2012
Franz Schubert: String Quartet in a minor “Rosamunde”, D. 804
Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit
Claude Debussy: String quartet in g minor, op. 10

Artemis Quartet: Natalia Prichepenko (violin), Gregor Sigl (violin), Friedemann Weigle (viola), Eckart Runge (violoncello)

Artemis Quartet (© Boris Streubel)

Following their critically acclaimed recording of the complete Beethoven string quartets, Artemis Quartet recently launched their new CD with the late string quartets by Franz Schubert. The Berlin based ensemble opened their recital at the Mozart-Hall of the Vienna Konzerthaus with one of these Schubert masterpieces, the Rosamunde Quartet.

Schubert, in his own words, regarded these string quartets as stepping-stones on his way to symphonic music. This is most apparent in his String Quartet in a minor, better known as the Rosamunde Quartet: in the second movement “Andante”, Schubert develops the same thematic material he used for his incidental music to Helmina von Chézy’s drama “Rosamunde”. Avoiding symphonic pathos, the Artemis Quartet delivered a Rosamunde that was transparent and well conceived, with brisk, at times almost breathless tempi.

The core work of the program was Henri Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit (“So the night”). The French composer, born in 1916, has been fortunate to witness almost a century of evolution in music. As a composer, however, he does not adhere to any specific “school”. He is an uncompromising believer in the abstract construction of a composition. He rejects program music as being too specific, and yet all his compositions bear suggestive names. The seven movements of his string quartet Ainsi la nuit, written between 1974 and 1976, have imaginative titles like “Miroir d’espace” (“space mirror”), “constellations” or “Temps suspendu” (“suspended time”). One inevitably associates imagery with this evocative music, especially when the music is played by a string quartet as expressive as the Artemis Quartet.

It is just as pleasurable listening to the Artemis Quartet perform as watching them. The two violinists and the violist play standing, while the cellist sits on a riser to bring him up to eye contact with his quartet partners. Observing how they breathe in perfect clinch or how they pass a theme or a motif to each other like a ball, one literally sees a composition’s architecture unfold in front of one’s eyes. This was especially the case in Claude Debussy’s impressionistic String Quartet, masterfully performed by Natalia Prischepenko, Gregor Sigl, Friedemann Weigle and Eckart Runge.

“Ainsi la nuit”, this season’s concert cycle “International Quartets” ended with Artemis’ transcription of Eric Satie’s entrancing Gymnopédie. The Artemis Quartet will return to the Konzerthaus Vienna in late October with works by Schubert, Mendelssohn and Ginastera.

Artemis Quartet
Konzerthaus Vienna

Wiebke Kuester



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