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The Belcea Quartet at SOU

Chamber Music Concerts will present young up-and-comers the Belcea Quartet Friday and Saturday on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland. Friday's performance will feature Franz Joseph Haydn's Quartet in C Major, Op. 20 no. 2; Dmitri Shostakovich's Quartet No. 14 in F-sharp Major, Op. 142; and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in F Major, Op. 59 no. 1.

Saturday's program will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet in C Major, K. 465 "Dissonant"; Benjamin Britten's String Quartet no. 3, Op. 94; and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18 no. 6.

The CMC presents 12 concerts a year in a season running from October through April. Members of the quartet will also present free educational outreach programs during their visit. These are free and open to the public. Check out CMC's web site at www.ChamberMusicConcerts.org for updates on these programs.

The Belcea Quartet has gained a reputation as one of the leading quartets of the new generation, seemingly taking the British and international chamber music circuit — and the classical press — by storm.

"Having a Romanian-born leader helps, but each player shades in a thousand colours and sings out the peasant rhythms, giving full vent to Bartók's dazzling emotional kaleidoscope," Geoff Brown wrote of the Quartet's recording of six string quartets in the London Times. "These are thrilling performances, bound for classic status."

Established at England's Royal College of Music in 1994, the quartet has since been coached by the Chilingirian, Amadeus and Alban Berg Quartets. They are the Associate Ensemble at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and are Quartet in Residence at the Atheneum Concert Hall in Bucharest.

The Belcea Quartet won the Gramophone Award for best debut recording in 2001 and has an exclusive recording contract with EMI Classics. Subsequent recordings for EMI include Schubert quartets, Brahms' String Quartet Op. 51 No. 1 and second String Quintet with Thomas Kakuska, Fauré's La Bonne Chanson with Ian Bostridge, Schubert's Trout Quintet with Thomas Adès and Corin Long, a double disc of Britten's string quartets, Mozart's "Dissonance" and "Hoffmeister" quartets, and, most recently, the complete Bartók quartets, for which the Quartet was awarded the title Chamber Music Ensemble of the Year by Germany's prestigious Echo Klassik Awards and nominated for a 2008 Gramophone Award.

The Quartet's touring efforts have taken them to the Vienna Konzerthaus and Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Brussels' Palais des Beaux Arts, Lisbon's Gulbenkian and other top European venues as well as New York City's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and San Francisco's Herbst Theatre.

They regularly work with such leading instrumentalists as Thomas Adès, Isabelle van Keulen and Michael Collins. Recent collaborations with singers have included performances of Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Ann Murray and Simon Keenlyside; Schoenberg's String Quartet No. 2, and a new commission by Joseph Phibbs for string quartet and voice with Lisa Milne at Wigmoire Hall.

The Belcea Quartet was established in 1994 at England’s Royal College of Music. - Photo courtesy of Chamber Music