During the last three decades, the Artemis Quartet has set new standards of flexibility for the modern string quartet. The ensemble's catalog includes Beethoven, Ligeti, Schoenberg, and Brahms. Capable of commanding power and breathtaking delicacy, the Artemis "is not only on par with the most virtuosic of their competitors, but it offers a greater musical intensity than all the others!" (Suddeutsche Zeitung). After the tragic death of its longtime violist in 2015, the Artemis has reemerged with renewed vigor; it remains "a testament to adaptability and consummate musicianship," noted the Chicago Classical Review.
For its fourth visit to Durham, the Artemis presents a condensed history of the string quartet in only three pieces. They begin with Haydn's beloved Quartet in G Minor, known as the "Rider" for its galloping, triumphant rhythms. Bartók rewrote the rules for string quartets in the twentieth century with his daring pizzicato fantasies, his magnetic metric tension, and his dissonant call-and-response sections with their pastoral denouements. The Artemis gives us the fourth of Bartók's modern classics. The concert ends with Brahms' Quartet No. 2. Impassioned and yearning, it embeds deep pangs of loneliness inside a prevailing sense of redemption.
Haydn: String Quartet in G Minor, op. 74, no. 3 ("Rider")
Bartók: String Quartet No. 4, Sz. 91
Brahms: String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, op. 51, no. 2