How to play a Beethoven cycle in 2012

How to play a Beethoven cycle in 2012


norman lebrecht

April 01, 2011

The young and very gifted Elias String Quartet are getting ready for the big one – Beethoven, the complete quartets.

But how does a young group get the word out in a market that is half competitive, half indifferent, and when so many other brands are far better known?
Start with the website, launched yesterday.
Get a few heavyweights to blog on it, kicking off with the Lindsay Quartet’s Peter Cropper.
Keep the thing refreshed with new features. Shoot a short film.
Build an audience online. Look and learn.
That’s how. I like these guys. They’re thinking creative.

Press release below.
Now it’s time for Beethoven. Not only is this highly acclaimed quartet
embarking on a three year journey to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven
string quartets, but it is also inviting the public to share the experience with
them via a dedicated interactive website, supported by the Borletti-Buitoni
The website, which is launched 30 March 2011, has been conceived by the
Elias String Quartet to encourage a wider audience appreciation of these
masterpieces, some of the most profound works in the string quartet repertoire.

< div>Rather than just hear the finished result on the concert platform, the Elias

players are willing to share their immersion in study, analysis and discovery of
Beethoven in a bid to demystify both the music and how they are preparing for
this huge undertaking.
As well as regular blogs, recordings, video diaries of coaching sessions,
rehearsals and concerts and an interactive forum (Your Beethoven), there will
be contributions from seasoned professionals of the string quartet world. The
Lindsay Quartet’s Peter Cropper, who has played each quartet more than 200
times over the last 30 years, launches the guest contributor page with a highly
personal introduction to this remarkable body of work. Martin Saving, the Elias
viola player, has launched the blog page with How Fast Shall We Play?, a
considered view on the controversial subject of tempi and the metronome.
From 2012 the Elias String Quartet will begin performances of the complete
Beethoven Quartets cycle at venues across the UK including Brighton,
Southampton and Tonbridge, culminating in London for the 2014/15 season. In
the meantime, forthcoming Elias String Quartet concerts featuring some of the
early and middle period Beethoven works within recital programmes include
London’s Wigmore Hall on 19 April, venues in Barnsley, Doncaster, Liverpool,
Portsmouth and Whitehaven throughout May and June and the East Neuk
Festival 2 and 3 July. Beethoven’s later quartets also feature in the 2011/12
season including Wigmore Hall and a Scottish tour.
An introductory film is featured on the website, made by the Borletti-Buitoni
Trust team of camera/editor Graham Johnston and producer David Hoskins,
along with individual video diaries from each of the players about their first
encounters with Beethoven’s works.
Sara Bitlloch, violin: “Along with Haydn, this is the body of work that
encompasses the biggest development in composition.”
Donald Grant, violin: “We’d love our audience to get to know us through this
process of learning these quartets.”
Martin Saving, viola: “You need to approach it with quite a bit of analysis and
study of harmony and structure and form, to get a better understanding.”
Marie Bitlloch, cello: “The Beethoven quartets are like the bible to the string
quartet repertoire …throughout all of them there is every emotion you can go
through. “
Have your say: Go to
Website design: Miles Essex
Press information:
Debra Boraston
T. 020 7483 1950 M. 07989 434 388