QUATUOR MORPHING

Quatuor Morphing

Friday, 17 February at 20:30

The Morphing Quartet won the first prize at the prestigious Chamber Music Competition in Osaka in 2011. The French-Lebanese saxophonist Anthony Malkoun is a member of the quartet. The brilliant saxophonists are in Lebanon for the first time.

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Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)
Quartet in F major
Allegro moderato
Assez vif
Très lent
Vif et agité

INTERVAL

Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907)
Holberg Suite Op. 40
Prelude (Allegro vivace)
Sarabande (Andante)
Gavotte (Allegretto)
Musette(Poco piú mosso)
Rigaudon (Allegro con brio)

Enrique Granados (7867 – 1916)
Spanish dances
Oriental Galante
Andaluza
Arabesca

Alexander Glazunoz (1865 – 1936)
Excerpts Quartet Op.109

Quatuor Morphing
In May 2011, those four friends were awarded first prize during the prestigious Chamber Music Competition of Osaka. This international success enabled them to perform 15 concerts in Japan during Autumn 2012 (Izumi Hall, Tsuda Hall, Beppu University…), as well as many festivals, in France and abroad: Concerts de Poche, Festival Pablo Casals, Musique d’un siècle, les Musicales de Wesserling, les Grandes
Heures de St Emilion, l’Eure Poétique et Musicale, les Mélusicales, Val d’Aulnay…
In 2013, the Morphing Quartet won first prize at the International Chamber Music Competition of Illzach. They were awarded by the Banque Populaire fondation, as well as the Cziffra fondation.
The performers’ complicity on a musical level serves an eclectic and ambitious program: Mendelssohn and Borodine, alongside Beffa and Ravel or even Piazzola and Mike Mower. From Baroque to Romanticism, Modern Music to Tango, viewers leave the concert with the joy of discovering the new sand original sounds of Mister Sax.
Morphing consists in putting two photos together to create a new, unique one. The four saxophonists introduce « Morphing sonore” of their respective musicality.

After more than a hundred concerts all over Europe and Asia, no doubt that they belong to the new generation of brillant classical formations of our time. Directly after their studies in Paris Conservatory, they began an international promising career.
This level of playing inspired by the best string quartets reveals unexpected musical qualities of the saxophone.

Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)
Quartet in F major
In his marvelous biographical novel about Ravel, French writer Jean Echenoz endeavored—in just over 100 pages—to capture the elegant manners and fastidious habits of the composer. Echenoz devoted discrete chapters to Ravel’s bathing ritual, his struggles with insomnia, and the elaborate wardrobe and ablutions he took with him on tour to the United States in 1927. That same year, Ravel oversaw a recording of a beloved early work, his String Quartet in F Major, a composition that is no less mannered than the composer himself. Puffing cigarettes in the London studio of the Aeolian recording company, Ravel made sure that the quartet was performed and recorded by his chosen ensemble, the International Quartet, in a manner that made it more classical sounding than the notes on the page would suggest. He wanted it to be restrained, held back, and he stressed precision in the tempos, melodic phrasing, and harmonic language. No single pitch could be more important than those surrounding it. Once this level of exactitude had been reached by the performers, Ravel gave the recording his seal of approval.

Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907)
Holberg Suite Op. 40
A miniature masterpiece of musical historicism, Grieg’s five- movement Fra Holbergs Tyd (“From Holberg’s Time” in the composer’s native Norwegian) is a tribute to the Baroque suite genre and its enduring vitality. Composed in 1884, it celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ludvig Holberg, a Danish- Norwegian playwright, thus invoking the lifespan of three prominent baroque composers born a year after Holberg in 1685: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Domenico Scarlatti. None of these particular composers’ styles are used as a model, for this is not a work of pastiche; rather, Grieg uses the Baroque forms of Prelude, Sarabande, Gavotte, Air and Rigaudon (all French dances, with the exception of the standard introductory Prelude) as vessels for a sound world very much his own. The suite was originally composed for piano solo, and that version deserves more frequent performance due to its energetic and rewarding use of the instrument. That said Grieg’s own arrangement for strings is equally idiomatic, especially in the transformation of the Prelude’s oscillating piano figures into a vigorous bow movement for the entire string orchestra. If there is more than a whiff of Handel in the exultant harmonies here, there are also bursts of Romantic virtuosity and delicate folk themes. The following dance movements preserve much of this folk flavor, with the Sarabande more joyous than is customary, the Gavotte floating skyward, the Air providing contrast with its doleful minor tonality but retaining the warmth of the composition as a whole, and the final Rigaudon a puckish celebration as boisterous as it is light- footed. Indeed the whole suite has a lightness of touch comparable to Tchaikovsky’s ballet music, making it a perfect partner for that composer’s Serenade for Strings – and as an example of baroque dance form with a modern, geographically inflected sensibility, it shares common ground with Piazzolla’s music too.

Enrique Granados (7867 – 1916)
Spanish dances
Enrique Granados is known chiefly for his colorful Spanish Dances (1892–1911) and his Goyescas (1911), piano pieces inspired by the paintings and etchings of Goya. He achieved great fame as a pianist in his native Spain and in Paris, where he had studied for two years, but his intense dislike of travel limited his touring. Many of Granados’s activities centered around Barcelona, where he had received much of his early musical training. In 1901 he founded a school there—the Academia Granados. Tragically, travel was at the heart of his untimely death. In 1916 he had reluctantly made the sea voyage to attend the Metropolitan’s highly successful premiere of his opera Goyescas, and had postponed his voyage home in order to play for President Woodrow Wilson. Having missed his ship to Spain, he sailed instead to Liverpool where he boarded the Sussex for Dieppe. The Sussex was torpedoed by a German submarine and, though Granados was picked up by a lifeboat, he jumped into the water to save his wife; both were drowned.

Alexander Glazunoz (1865 – 1936)
Excerpts Quartet Op.109
In 1932, Russian Alexander Glazunov wrote a saxophone quartet after composing many pieces for string quartets. His inspiration for his view on the saxophone was based on the Quatuor des Saxophones de la Garde Républicaine which was established by the French saxophone pioneer Marcel Mule in 1928. Glazunov, educated in the Mogoetsjaja koetsjka (five important Russian composers) and emigrated to Paris in 1928, was contaminated with the increasingly growing saxophone virus in the French capital and played a brilliant role in it. His quartet opus 109 was the first comprehensive saxophone quartet which could measure itself with the best the compositional field had to offer. Soon after its premier the work grew to be a benchmark in the saxophone repertoire. Glazunov’s saxophone quartet is composed of three parts. Allegro, Canzona variée and Finale. In the middle part, a five variation theme, Glazunov gives away how much his focus already was on Europe; the third as well as fourth variations’ respective subtitles are A la Schumann and A la Chopin.