Members of the Lutosławski Quartet together with their guests invite will present works by two excellent composers. We will hear the most famous works by Ernest Chausson, an artist sometimes called the precursor of French impressionism. The programme also includes music for string quartet by one of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, Béla Bartók.
In 1877, the 22-year-old Ernest Chausson decided to devote his life to music. The decision was not easy – a thoroughly gifted young man also showed talent for writing and painting. Moreover, he was a fresh graduate of law studies at the time. His destiny was, however, the Paris Conservatoire, where he was educated under the watchful eye of esteemed pedagogues: Jules Massenet and César Franck. The decision to choose a composer’s profession to many was not a surprise, because Chausson’s love for art sprang from his family home. In the fascinating output of the French composer, the most popular work is the atmospheric Poème. It was written in 1896, during the artist's holiday in a sunny Florence. Chausson took to write it in response to the request of the famous Belgian violin virtuoso and composer, Eugène Ysaÿe. The composition was initially supposed to be a violin concerto, but Chausson quickly gave up the idea, considering it too big a challenge. Thus, a small, charming piece for violin and orchestra was created. The author later transcribed it for a smaller instrumental line-up, i. e. for violin and piano with string quartet. Chausson’s most often performed piece is a slightly younger Concerto in D major, Op. 21, written in 1891. The premiere performance of this thoroughly virtuosic composition was also given by Ysaÿe, who decided to present the Concerto with his quartet and pianist Auguste Pierret. The key figure of the premiere was undoubtedly Pierret. He was the second piano virtuoso asked to perform the concerto – his predecessor resigned, considering his part to be too difficult.
At the time when Chausson wrote his Poème, the fifteen-year-old Béla Bartók attended gymnasium in Bratislava, where he learned to play the piano and composed the first pieces. Among them, there was chamber music, the genre to which Bartók would return throughout his composing career. He completed his String Quartet no. 3 in 1927, being already a fully mature artist with an individual musical language. The work was presented at the Musical Fund Society in Philadelphia, where it received the first prize. The unconventional composition, although initially arousing contradictory opinions of reviewers, is a work composed with great precision and full of ideas. It delights with the richness of harmony and various colours.