The Jerusalem Quartet, among the best-known of Israel’s chamber music ensembles, is one of the world’s most highly regarded string quartets. The Strad magazine calls it “one of the young, yet great quartets of our time.”
Several years ago, violinists Alexander Pavlovsky and Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov embarked on a courageous mission to play every one of Demitri Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets in a single week-long event. The quartet found a friend in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and scheduled its mammoth performance week for the month of May in New York City.
Not long after the Lincoln Center performances were scheduled, the Quartet decided it could benefit from another U.S. “run-through” of the entire cycle. With nearly 75 years of experience in bringing world-class chamber music to Portland, the city’s Friends of Chamber Music jumped at the chance to play host. Thanks to that organization’s commitment and dedication to live, intimate performances, the Portland deal was finalized.
Now, for the first time, the Jersualem Quartet will come to Portland for four concerts that demonstrate the sheer vibrancy of Israel’s classical music scene. The ensemble rarely plays in the U.S.; rarer still in the Pacific Northwest. March 10-14 will be their first visit to Portland.
Friends of Chamber Music, the concert series presenter, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting the highest- quality chamber ensembles in concert. FOCM is the longest noninterrupted chamber music series in Oregon and the sixth longest running in the U.S. It began in 1938, when Reed College Classics Professor Reginald Arragon and his wife, Gertrude, thought it important to bring quality chamber music to the Portland area. Since then, FOCM has grown, year after year, to the point where it now consistently brings the world’s best ensembles, highly regarded vocalists and vocal ensembles, and modern “not so classic” ensembles to Portland every year.
Israel’s great Jerusalem Quartet has won audiences across the globe, in concert and on their Harmonia Mundi recordings. The ensemble’s recording of the Shostakovich quartets was BBC Music Magazine’s top chamber music pick at its 2007 Award Ceremony. They have played in the U.S., but with their upcoming performance, Portland audiences will have the chance to see them live for the first time.
Tickets are available at focm.org.
FREE LECTURES AND ANCILLARY EVENTS March 9, 1:30-2:30 pm Multnomah County Central Library Shostakovich and Soviet Culture: Evgenii V. Bershtein, associate professor of Russian at Reed College, discusses Soviet culture during Shostakovich’s time.
March 9, 3-4 pm
Multnomah County Central Library Will the Real Dmitri Please Stand Up? Peter Kupfer, assistant professor of music history at Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, talks about the search for meaning in the music of Shostakovich.
March 10, 1:30-2:30 pm
Lincoln Recital Hall (Room 75), PSU Tradition & Intimacy in The Quartets of Shostakovich: Peter Kupfer, Assistant Professor of Music History at Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, addresses how Shostakovich’s quartets represent more “private” utterances, and how they can be understood within the tradition of the string quartet.
March 12, 11am-noon
Lincoln Recital Hall (Room 75), PSU PSU Roundtable Discussion: Jerusalem Quartet Tells All. A conversation with the Jerusalem Quartet about the demands and rewards of performing a Shostakovich cycle; moderated by All Classical radio’s Robert McBride.
March 12, 12:30-1:30 pm
Lincoln Recital Hall (Room 75), PSU Open Rehearsal: String Quartet + String Quartet. The Jerusalem Quartet joins four PSU students to rehearse Shostakovich’s Prelude & Scherzo: Two Pieces for String Octet, Op. 11.