The Belcea Quartet will go on the stage of the Romanian Athenaeum, on September 1, at 17.00, in the series Recitals and Chamber Music. The guest is Valentin Erben (cello), and the program includes Beethoven – String Quartet no. 14 op. 131 in C sharp minor and Schubert – Quintet for two violins, viola and two cellos, op. 163, D956 in C Major. Alexandru Pătraşcu will reveal their universe!
by Alexandru Pătraşcu, author of the blog Despre Operă
I often heard, repeatedly, about the Belcea Quartet. When I started looking for them, their record of Beethoven’s quartets (volume 2, consisting of the final period) was just chosen “Recording of the Month” in the August 2013 issue of the Gramophone magazine. The record was part of the premium category, at a price of 20 euro, and the complete works cost 25. This was a good enough reason to subscribe to a streaming service like Apple Music or Google Play Music.
For the occasional spectator in concert halls, chamber music is generally not the first option. And if, on the same day, Zubin Mehta conducts Mahler, we have found the perfect excuse. For me, the first option for September 1 is the concert given by Belcea Quartet, with Schubert’s and Beethoven’s music. This is an argument (that a miniature cannot be part of a military parade) for which it would be great if some of the Enescu Festival took part during regular seasons in Romania, including in even years. What a poster we would have with Belcea Quartet in concert, on Thursdays and Fridays, at the Athenaeum!
Technical perfection is not enough; the spirit must be the same
A quartet of classical music instrumentalists is a form of perfection. Not only the synchronization and cohesion of the four musicians is important, but also all the details, to the point of breathing together. Because, as it is merely a sum of sixteen strings, namely four by four, there can be no delay, no mistake; even technical perfection is not enough – the spirit must be the same. In order to succeed in this line of music, you need to be truly exceptional. There is a Who’s Who here too, a Gotha Almanac preserved on record, always open to comparison: Pro Arte, Vegh, Budapest, Amadeus, Alban Berg, the names of ensembles that take up 90% of the history. The fact that the quartet founded by Corina Belcea stands by their side is truly extraordinary.
You will easily find online the entire history of the Belcea Quartet: from the debut at Carnegie Hall, in 2000, to performances all over the world and their already respectable discography, as regards the number of records, lauded by critics (even more so as studio recordings are rarer these days). I am just making a plea, I am not trying to be encyclopedic.
What will they play at the Enescu Festival 2015? First of all, Schubert’s quintet (with a posthumous premiere), dubbed the “Cello Quintet”, with Valentin Erben as guest second cello, the only string quintet by Schubert, which has become a masterpiece of the genre. Then the Quartet No. 14 by Beethoven, which requires no explanation. Perhaps just a remark by the same Franz Schubert: “After this, what more can we write?”
Making music is a form of love. Who can refuse it?