A review from our concert in Lincoln Nebraska 9/27/15
Lincoln Journal Star:
As part of the Chinese Culture Festival at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Shanghai Quartet presented arrangements of Chinese folk music paired with Romantic-era string quartets Sunday afternoon at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Shanghai Quartet boasts an impressive long-term international reputation and has recorded more than 30 albums. The quartet consists of first violinist, Weigang Li; second violinist, Yi-Wen Jiang; violist Honggang Li; and cellist, Nicholas Tzavaras.
Mendelssohn’s “String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80″ opened the program. The first crescendo of quick and precise passagework was meticulously together. Of particular note was the accelerando at the end of the first movement, which was well-together and perfectly timed. The dance character of the second movement was exceptional as well.
Next were selections from one of the group’s most popular albums, “China Song,” which featured a delightful set of traditional Chinese folk songs, arranged for string quartet by their second violinist Yi-Wen Jiang. The avant-garde “Song of the Ch’in” (1982) by Zhou Long opened the second half. This piece featured clicking, tapping and glissando effects which resembled the “Ch’in,” a traditional Chinese instrument.
Last on the program was Grieg’s “String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27.” The ensemble really captured the sense of drama to the piece. The cello feature at the end of the first movement was quite remarkable. Overall, the quartet maintained a great sense of balance, blend and clarity to the rousing finish at the end.
For an encore the Shanghai Quartet presented another arrangement of a Chinese folk tune, a serene picturesque piece with cadenzas resembling bird calls. The group was very well-received, a sparkling jewel to the UNL Chinese Culture Festival..
A review from the Casals Festival in Prades, France, 8/2015
For those who do fancy the concept, the Shanghai Quartet recently recorded the controversial Fourth Piano Concerto arrangement, recorded live and in studio with some wonderful playing by the Lithuanian pianist Muza Rubackytė; the result is warmly appealing and quite overwhelming in times in its intimate distillation of Beethoven’s large-scale outpouring of song.
The evening’s pièce de résistance was inevitably the Shanghai Quartet’s Beethoven’s intensely serious laying out of the succession of terse, epigrammatic bits and pieces of melody and absolute fury that is the shortest of composer’s 16 full-fledged quartets, revealing rather than forcing, letting the music speak from the composer’s burning heart and keenly analytical head, in the city where after his self-imposed exile from Franco’s Spain, Casals continued to keep music’s spirit burning pure and bright.
Shanghai Quartet becomes cultural ambassadors
A lovely article in the local paper in Syracuse NY in anticipation of our upcoming visit to the Skaneateles Festival!!
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World Premiere: Du Yun’s Tattooed in Snow
On February 8, 2015 the Shanghai Quartet will premiere Du Yun’s Tattooed in Snow, commissioned by Peak Performances, Montclair Sate University. This work explores the temporary, fragile crystallization of art in nature and in space, often formed by the repetition of a small idea processed over a long period of time. The players of the Shanghai become four pillars of a musical space; a chant begins to move among them, layers, repeats and takes shape in the manner of a sculpture in sand or snow.
This work is inspired by these delicate art forms as well as chant and poetry, building on Du Yun’s work with both visual and spoken-word artists. This piece will provide a different kind of platform for the Shanghai Quartet and their audience: an experience drawn from one of the richest resources of western music.
The Shanghai Quartet has a long history of championing new music with 27 commissions and world premieres over 30 years.
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