Friday 29 September 2023

The chance to deep dive into Dvořák's quartets: Michael Trainor of the Piatti Quartet introduces their new residency at Kings Place

The Piatti Quartet
The Piatti Quartet - Miguel Sobrinho, Jessie Ann Richardson, Emily Holland, Michael Trainor

The Piatti Quartet (Michael Trainor, Emily Holland, Miguel Sobrinho, Jessie Ann Richardson) starts as Resident Quartet at Kings Place in October with a season of concerts exploring Dvořák's late string quartets alongside more contemporary repertoire. Here Michael Trainor, the quartet's first violin, introduces the new season.

"The sun is just coming over the horizon and there’s a tangible excitement in the air. All of a sudden a figure on horseback throwing up plumes of dust comes into view, riding with speed and flair.."

That's a segment of how we like to introduce Dvořák's 'American' Quartet from the stage just before our performance. It's a fantastic work which conjures up images and narratives like these all the time, the music completely encapsulating something distinctly American. Indeed so much so that it has remained one of the most popular chamber works to this day and has lost none of its sheen nearly 130 years later.

And so we will begin our journey as the new Resident Quartet on 25 October at Kings Place this season. We're taking over the baton from the Brodsky Quartet who have been resident there for 10 years and we'll certainly look to carry on their sense of adventure they bring to programming.

In these Rush Hour Lates concerts at Kings Place we will present Dvořák's late string quartets and end with the brilliant Piano Quintet No.2 in A major with pianist Emmanuel Despax. With the quartets, No.12 'The American' and No.13 in G major we know very well- in fact No.13 we performed at the final of the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition back in 2015- however the A flat major, No.14. will be a real discovery for us. Whenever we discover a 'lesser' known work like this by a famous composer, it truly reminds us of the extraordinary riches and depth of string quartet repertoire.

What excites us about this residency? The chance to build a really strong rapport with the audience that comes along. We'll be out chatting and meeting with the audience post-concert. It's always something we've loved doing, but since those strange empty Covid broadcasts from vacant halls, they've taken on an even stronger significance. The chance to deep dive into Dvořák's quartets is another plus. Dvořák is endlessly fascinating with texture, techniques he really perfected with these works. Like any great composer for quartet, it adds up to something much greater than the sum of its parts. From an audience perspective you can either choose to let those catchy, searing and passionate melodies wash over you or zone in on all that detail, either way Dvořák's spirit will bring you on a wonderful journey.

Finally the opportunity to get to intimately know one of London's best concert halls is a big attraction, Hall One at Kings Place. It has a brilliant acoustic, with a natural resonance that makes string instruments sing and radiate warmth.

A new commission from young composer Anna Appleby and one of our most popular commissions with audiences, a 2022 work by Charlotte Harding, will add a compelling dimension to the concerts along with works by Ina Boyle, Anton Webern and Franz Schubert. All will start at 6:45pm and last no more than an hour. 

Full details can be found at the Kings Place website

The Piatti Quartet is named after Alfredo Piatti, a 19th Century virtuoso cellist who was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music (the alma mater of the founders of the quartet) and also a major exponent of chamber music and contemporary music of his time [Piatti's own operatic fantasies for cello and piano were recorded in 2020, see my article]. The quartet won joint second prize and the Sydney Griller Award at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition. 

They have premiered a mesmerising number of new works over the years beginning with Anna Meredith back in 2009 and including works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Emily Howard, Charlotte Harding, and Joseph Phibbs, as well as making the premiere recording of Ina Boyle’s String Quartet in E minor, and performing lesser known quartet gems by Ralph Vaughan Williams, E.J. Moeran, Rachmaninov, Ireland, Haas, Ulmann, and Durosoir.

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