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Arditti Quartet at 40, La Salle Quartet, Gluck in London, Miklos Perenyi

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 19 April 2014

Tom Service talks to Robert Spruytenburg, author of a new book on the ground-breaking LaSalle Quartet, famous for their performances of works by the Second Viennese School and for commissioning pieces by the likes of Lutoslawski and Ligeti. The violinist Irvine Arditti talks to Tom about the influence the LaSalles had on his quartet - and looks back on forty years of The Ardittis. Tom also discusses the career of the celebrated Hungarian cellist Miklos Perenyi. Plus - as part of Radio 3's Eighteenth Century Season - Tom looks at the brief but important time that Christoph Willibald Gluck spent in one of London's theatres.


    Arditti Quartet

    This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Arditti Quartet. Hundreds of string quartets and other chamber works have been written for the ensemble over the past four decades, many leaving a permanent mark on the 20th and 21st century repertoire, giving these musicians a firm place in musical history. Tom Service meets the founder and first violinist Irvine Arditti to discuss the group’s work, which has included world premieres of pieces by composers from Ades to Xenakis.

    More information: The Arditti Quartet

    Over the last 5 years Paul Archbold and his colleagues at the Institute of Musical Research at the School of Advanced Study have recorded a number of films documenting the Arditti Quartet in rehearsal and their relationship with several composers. You can see the films here:

    Photo: ©Astrid Karger


    The LaSalle Quartet 1953

    The LaSalle Quartet was the premiere exponent of “the new music” for string quartet. Founded in 1946, at the Julliard School in New York, it became famous for its performances of works by the Second Viennese School and its commissioning of many new pieces by contemporary post-war composers. As a result the quartets by Lutoslawski, Ligeti and Nono have since entered the standard repertoire. The LaSalles were also incisive interpreters of the classical quartet repertoire and had an impressive record of teaching other quartets including the Alban Berg, Brahms, Artis and Vogler . Its founder and first violinist Walter Levin, is himself a highly influential teacher whose students included the conductor James Levine and the violinist Christian Tetzlaff. Tom talks to Robert Spruytenburg, the author of a new book on the LaSalle Quartet which is based on interviews with Walter Levin, conducted over a five year period.

    More information: The LaSalle Quartet by Robert Spruytenburg

    Photo: ©KLT Photos, Cincinnati



    Portrait of Christoph Willibald von Gluck by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis

    In 1745 the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck accepted an invitation to become house composer at London's King's Theatre. However, fate wasn’t on his side as the Jacobite Rebellion caused much panic in London and for most of the year the King's Theatre was closed. The two operas that Gluck wrote for London - La caduta de'giganti and Artamene - were eventually performed in 1746 and borrowed much from his earlier works, a method that was to re-occur throughout his career.  Tom visits the site of the King’s Theatre (which is now occupied by Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s Haymarket) to find out more about Gluck’s time in London from the musicologist Patricia Howard. There’s also an exclusive performance of an aria from Artamene by the counter-tenor Tim Morgan and harpsichordist Steven Devine. (Most certainly the first time it’s ever been recorded!)

    More information: The 18th Century Season on BBC Radio 3


    Miklos Perenyi

    Miklos Perenyi is recognized as one of the great cellists of his generation.  Born in Budapest in 1948, he began cello lessons at the age of five, gave his first concert at the age of nine and by 1963 had become a prize-winner at the International Pablo Casals Cello Competition in Budapest. Prior to Perenyi performing with his good friend Andras Schiff in London on Tuesday, Tom talks to the cellist about his career and his personal and professional relationships with some of the most influential 20th century composers including Ligeti, Kurtag and Kodaly.

    More information: Miklos Perenyi & Andras Schiff at Wigmore Hall, London on Tues 22nd April

    Photo: © Andrea Felvegi



Tom Service
Interviewed Guest
Robert Spruytenburg
Interviewed Guest
Irvine Arditti



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