The Escher String Quartet appears at Williams thanks to the sponsorship of the W. Ford Schumann '50 Performing Arts Endowment. This concert is free and open to the public.
The ensemble takes its name from Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher and draws inspiration from the artist’s method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole. This philosophy has worked well for the group. According the the Boston Globe, "Finely honed technique and a focused ensemble blend are this group's strong suits...a dark ambrosial brew all its own."
Their program at Williams is ambitious and original. The concert starts off with Chacony in G minor for String Quartet by Purcell, followed by Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2 in C major for Strings, Op. 36. The second half features two compositions by Gesualdo, “Se la mia morte brami” from Madrigali libro sesto and “Illumina faciem tuam.” Crowning the concert is the Quartet in A minor for Strings, Op. 132, by Beethoven.
The Escher String Quartet has received acclaim for its individual sound, inspired artistic decisions and unique cohesiveness. Championed by members of the Emerson String Quartet, the group were proud to be BBC New Generation Artists for 2010-2012. Having completed a three-year residency as artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “CMS Two” program, the ensemble has already performed at prestigious venues and festivals around the world including Alice Tully Hall, the 92nd Street Y and Symphony Space in New York, Kennedy Center, the Louvre, Ravinia and Caramoor Festivals, Music@Menlo, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Wigmore Hall, the City of London Festival and a tour of China including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Within months of its inception in 2005, the Escher String Quartet was invited by both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman to be the quartet-in-residence at each artist's summer festival: The Young Artists Programme at Canada’s National Arts Centre and The Perlman Chamber Music Program on Shelter Island, NY. The Eschers have since collaborated with artists such as Andrés Diaz, Lawrence Dutton, Kurt Elling, David Finckel, Leon Fleisher, Vadim Gluzman, Benjamin Grosvenor, Wu Han, Gary Hoffman, Joseph Kalichstein, David Shifrin, Joseph Silverstein, and Pinchas Zukerman. In August 2012 the Quartet gave their BBC Proms debut, performing Hugh Wood’s 4th String Quartet.
In 2012-2013 the Quartet will complete their final BBC New Generation Artists recording project in London, as well as returning to the Wigmore Hall following their successful debut there in February 2012. They will continue their relationship with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, curating and performing a series of concerts celebrating the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth. Their tours in Europe include a date with the prestigiousAgence de concerts et spectacles Cecilia in Geneva, their Austrian debut in Eisenstadt, and concerts at several UK festivals including Paxton and Gregynog.
2012-2013 releases include the complete Zemlinsky Quartets on Naxos; the Escher String Quartet will also record the complete Mendelssohn Quartets for release by BIS. Their previous recordings include ‘Stony Brook Soundings’ Vol. 1 (Bridge Records), which features the quartet in the premiere recordings of five new works. Other recordings include the Amy Beach Piano Quintet with Anne-Marie McDermott for the CMS Studio Recordings label.
The Williams College Music Department’s Visiting Artist Series brings outstanding groups and soloists representing various musical styles and genres to the Williams campus to work with students and faculty and perform for the pleasure of all.
Purcell Chacony in G minor for String Quartet (arr. Britten) (c. 1678, arr. 1947–8, rev. 1963)
Britten Quartet No. 2 in C major for Strings, Op. 36 (1945)
Gesualdo “Se la mia morte brami” from Madrigali libro sesto (arr. Lapointe) (1611)
Gesualdo Illumina faciem tuam (arr. Lapointe) (1603)
Beethoven Quartet in A minor for Strings, Op. 132 (1825)
For information about the Escher String Quartet master class: http://music.williams.edu/node/1668 (for Williams students and faculty)