Australian String Quartet Presents James Ledger World Premiere


The Australian String Quartet (ASQ) presents its final 2018 tour performance with a program of celebrated works by Schubert and Shostakovich, complemented by the world premiere of a work by Australian composer James Ledger, specially commissioned by the ASQ.

Western Australian composer James Ledger’s revolutionary new work The Distortion Mirror adds microphones to the ASQ’s Guadagnini instruments, synthesizing and looping their sounds, reversed, inverted, and skewed in time and pitch. The piece is inspired by side-show alley mirrors of fetes, circuses and carnivals which reflect the world in a vast array of intriguing deceptions.

Schubert’s String Quartet no 13, Rosamunde, was the only one published in his lifetime and was written at about the same time as his Death and the Maiden quartet. Rosamunde is a dramatic work of order, craftsmanship and eloquence, anointing Schubert as Beethoven’s successor to the music-loving Viennese of the 19th century.

The work of Shostakovich counters Schubert’s style with fierce contrasts of emotion and character. Written on a composer’s retreat in Armenia in 1964, his String Quartet no 10 begins serenely, reflecting the beauty of nature before wild outbursts unsettle the deceptive calm, giving way to the inner turmoil bubbling beneath Shostakovich, the shackled genius.

“The pairing of Schubert and Shostakovich is a very enticing one for us. The two composers, whilst worlds apart, both knew tremendous suffering. Each reflect their pain in very unique and personal ways, but ultimately, both works deliver some of the most poignant music ever written for string quartet” says violinist Dale Barltrop.

The Australian String Quartet performs this tour with guest cellist Blair Harris, who will be standing in for ASQ cellist Sharon Grigoryan, currently on maternity leave.

From its home base at the University of Adelaide, Elder Conservatorium of Music, the ASQ has for over thirty years, performed nationally and internationally presenting outstanding performances, workshops, commissions and education projects. The Quartet’s distinct sound is enhanced by a matched set of 18th century Guadagnini instruments, handcrafted by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini between c.1743 and 1784 in Turin and Piacenza, Italy. Dale Barltrop plays a 1784 Guadagnini Violin, Turin, Francesca Hiew plays a 1748-49 Guadagnini Violin, Piacenza, Stephen King plays a 1783 Guadagnini Viola, Turin and Sharon Grigoryan plays a c.1743 Guadagnini Violoncello, Piacenza, ‘Ngeringa.’

Cellist Blair Harris is a highly regarded solo and chamber musician, known particularly for his strikingly individual interpretations and innovative collaborative projects. Blair is a member of Ensemble Offspring, and performs regularly as a duo with pianist Caroline Almonte. Blair has worked with numerous chamber music ensembles including Syzygy Ensemble, Streeton Trio, Seraphim Trio, Inventi Ensemble and the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist he has performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria Blair is currently guest principal cello of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

The programme: Schubert String Quartet no 13 in A minor Rosamunde /James Ledger String Quartet no 2 The Distortion Mirror (World Premiere) /Shostakovich String Quartet no 10 in A-flat major op 118


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