Calidore Quartet Brings All-Beethoven Feast To Oakmont

  • Rosemary Waller
Calidore string Quartett
Photo: Marco Borggreve

On Thursday, Jan. 31 at 1:30 PM in Berger Center, we will have the special treat of hearing one of the top young string quartets on today’s concert stage. Returning to Oakmont for their third appearance, the Calidore will present a program featuring three Beethoven string quartets. This “bonus” concert in January is a rescheduling of the October 2017 concert that was cancelled because of the wildfires.

Praised by the NYTimes for its “deep reserves of virtuosity and irrepressible dramatic instinct,” the Calidore was formed in 2010 at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and within two years had won the top prizes at all the major American chamber music competitions, as well as in Hamburg and Munich. More recently the ensemble has been awarded the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, and the coveted $100,000 Grand Prize of the 2016 M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition. The quartet performs regularly in prestigious venues throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Festival appearances include BBC Proms, Verbier, Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, and Music@Menlo.

The Calidore’s debut recording of quartets by Mendelssohn and Haydn elicited Gramophone magazine’s praise of the group as “the epitome of confidence and finesse.” Three additional discs have continued to garner critical acclaim.


The three Beethoven works to be heard in this concert are Op. 18, No. 4; Op. 74; and Op. 131. Notes for Op. 74 (middle period) follow. For complete program notes, please visit our website

Beethoven: Quartet Op. 74 “Harp”

Composed in 1809, this quartet, like the set of six Op. 18, is dedicated to the Bohemian Prince Lobkowitz. (The nickname, not by Beethoven, comes from the pizzicato, or plucked, passages by pairs of instruments in the first movement.) The work was written at a time of great strife. Napoleon’s army was threatening an invasion of Vienna, and the composer, anxious to leave the city, accepted the offer of a position from Napoleon’s younger brother, the newly minted King of Westphalia. Three Viennese noblemen, including Prince Lobkowitz, stepped up to make a successful counteroffer: a guaranteed generous annual stipend to keep Beethoven in Vienna. Just two months later Napoleon was at the city gates. The Austrians resisted the takeover, but the French needed only one day to prevail. Beethoven’s three patrons fled the city. The composer is said to have spent the battle day in his brother Casper Carl’s basement, covering his ears to protect further damage to his diminishing hearing.

In the midst of this ongoing turmoil Beethoven produced three sublime works in quick succession, all in the key of E-flat Major: the “Harp,” his Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor,” and his Piano Sonata “Les Adieux.”

WHAT: Music at Oakmont

WHEN: Thurs. Jan. 31, 1:30 PM

WHERE: Berger Center

ADMISSION: $20, or your 2018-19 season pass, at the door

(Note: if you had LAST season’s pass—2017-18—this concert is free of charge.


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