Brentano String Quartet
Hsin-Yun Huang, viola
June 16, 2021
Joseph Haydn: String Quartets, op. 33, no. 3, The Bird
James MacMillan: Viola Quintet, Heart Speaks to Heart (world premiere)
Johannes Brahms: Quintet for Strings in G Major, op. 111
Our season opening performance features the incomparable Brentano String Quartet. Having first performed in the Fife in 2014, the ensemble returns for the center’s 10th anniversary season, joined by leading violist and Juilliard faculty member Hsin-Yun Huang. The program includes Haydn’s string quartet, The Bird; Brahms’ exuberant Quintet for Strings in G Major; and the premiere of James MacMillan’s Viola Quintet, composed for the ensemble.
About Brentano String Quartet
Serena Canin, violin
Mark Steinberg, violin
Misha Amory, viola
Nina Lee, cello
Since its inception in 1992 the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. “Passionate, uninhibited and spellbinding,” raves the London Independent; the New York Times extols its “luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism.”
Within a few years of its formation, the quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and was also honored in the U.K. with the Royal Philharmonic Award for “Most Outstanding Debut.” Since then the quartet has concertized widely, performing in the world’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; the Konzerthaus in Vienna; Suntory Hall in Tokyo; and the Sydney Opera House.
In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet maintains a strong interest in contemporary music and has commissioned many new works. Its latest project, a monodrama for quartet and voice called Dido Reimagined, was composed by Pulitzer-winning composer Melinda Wagner and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann and had its premiere in spring 2022 with soprano Dawn Upshaw. Other recent commissions include the composers Matthew Aucoin, Lei Liang, Vijay Iyer, James MacMillan, and a cello quintet by Steven Mackey (with Wilhelmina Smith, cello).
The Brentano Quartet has worked closely with other important composers, including Elliot Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. They have also been privileged to collaborate with soprano Jessye Norman, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and pianists Richard Goode, Jonathan Biss, and Mitsuko Uchida. The quartet has recorded works by Mozart and Schubert for Azica Records, and all of Beethoven’s late quartets for the Aeon label. In 2012 they provided the central music (Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 14, op. 131) for the critically-acclaimed independent film A Late Quartet.
Since 2014 the Brentano Quartet has served as artists-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. It was formerly the ensemble-in-residence at Princeton University, and was twice invited to be the collaborative ensemble for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
The quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” the intended recipient of his famous love confession.
About Hsin-Yun Huang
Violist Hsin-Yun Huang has forged a career by performing on international concert stages, commissioning and recording new works, and nurturing young musicians. Highlights of her 2017-2018 season included performances as soloist under the batons of David Robertson, Osmo Vanska, Xian Zhang, and Max Valdes in Beijing, Taipei, and Bogota. She is also the first solo violist to be presented in the National Performance Center of the Arts in Beijing and was featured as a faculty member with Yo-Yo Ma and his new initiative in Guangzhou. She has commissioned compositions from Steven Mackey, Shih-Hui Chen, and Poul Ruders. Her 2012 recording for Bridge Records, Viola, won accolades from Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. Her next recording will be the complete unaccompanied sonatas and partitas of J. S. Bach, in partnership with her husband, Brentano violist Misha Amory.
Huang regularly appears at festivals, including Marlboro, Spoleto, Ravinia, Santa Fe, and Music@Menlo, among many others. Huang first came to international attention as the gold medalist in the 1988 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. In 1993 she was the top-prize winner in the ARD International Competition in Munich and was awarded the highly prestigious Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award. A native of Taiwan, she received degrees from the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Juilliard School. She now serves on the faculties of Juilliard and Curtis and lives in New York City.
This performance is supported in part by gifts from Intimate Voices and Deborah L. Brown.
Brentano String Quartet first performed at the Moss Arts Center in 2014. This is Hsin-Yun Huang's first performance at the Moss.