Dover Quartet Plays Back-to-Back Concerts in NYC (May 5 & 6), before Intensive Summer of Festivals
Source: 21C Media Group


Dover Quartet, live in Seattle (photo: Carlin Ma)
On the heels of an extensive German tour, the Dover Quartet – “one of the world’s finest young string quartets” (New Yorker) – comes back to New York City for a weekend of back-to-back appearances. On Saturday, May 5, the group continues its three-year tenure as the first Ensemble-in-Residence of the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts with a program of Haydn, Borodin, and Mozart. The following day, on Sunday, May 6, the quartet heads a few blocks further downtown for a pairing of Mozart and Mendelssohn in the weekly GatherNYC series at SubCulture. These Big Apple dates punctuate a full spring that also sees the Dovers return to Northwestern University for the next installment in their specially created faculty residency, before embarking on an intensive transatlantic summer festival lineup. Highlighted by performances at the Edinburgh International Festival, Norway’s Rosendal Chamber Music Festival, Wyoming’s Grand Teton Music Festival, Oregon’s Chamber Music Northwest, Massachusetts’s Rockport Chamber Music Festival, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the summer caps another banner season for the 2016-18 Cleveland Quartet Award-winning group that is, as the Washington Post observes, “the very model of a modern young classical ensemble.”
Since its founding in 1900, the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts series has consistently offered “Top Music for Bottom Dollar” (New York Times), presenting world-class artists and ensembles at lower admission prices than any major series in the country. The Dovers were appointed in 2015 as the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts’ inaugural Ensemble-in-Residence, in which capacity they return to Manhattan’s historic Washington Irving High School this spring. Their program comprises Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, Borodin’s String Quartet in D, and Mozart’s String quintet in G minor with Steven Tenenbom, violist of Opus One and the Orion String Quartet. Both string quartets also featured in the group’s recent Miami debut, when – impressing the South Florida Classical Review with their “refined corporate blend and strong interpretive instincts” – the Dovers “probed deeply into the dramatic and emotional subtext” of the Haydn, before earning “a standing ovation” with their “exceptional performance” of the Borodin.
The morning after their Peoples’ Symphony concert, the Dovers reconvene at SubCulturefor a recital in the GatherNYC series, which offers concerts, coffee, and pastries in place of weekly religious services. Here the group pairs Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in F minor with Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, which formed the centerpiece of a recent recital at Northwestern University’s Winter Chamber Music Festival. Praising the group’s combination of “fire and elegance,” the Chicago Classical Review reported:
“The players dug into the drama of the outer movements without sacrificing their polished tone or losing an essential Rococo elegance. The Andante was lovely, rendered with lilting grace; the stormy quality of the Menuetto proved as driven and edgy as its tick-tock trio was piquant and charming. The Dover members had the final set of variations fully in their kit, playing the main theme with gracious insistence and consistently underlining the score’s unease with an almost violent desperation.”
Now in the third year of a faculty residency at Northwestern University, the Dovers return to Illinois later this spring for three days of intensive masterclasses, coaching and more (May 21–24). Late May also sees them join forces with Carter Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic, for a traversal of Schubert’s transcendent String Quintet in C at the La Jolla Music Society (May 19).
The Dovers are as dedicated to growing and enriching today’s quartet literature as they are to interpreting the classics, as their summer programming reflects. During a ten-day residency at Chamber Music Northwest (July 2–12), they look forward to taking part in the world premiere of Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s viola quintet, Primal Message, with the composer herself on viola, and to joining composer-percussionist Andy Akiho for two performances of his LIgNEouS Suite for marimba and string quartet. Bookended by the Haydn and Borodin quartets, the second of these takes place during a dedicated recital titled “An Evening with the Dover Quartet” (July 12). Similarly, at Montana’s Tippet Rise Art Center, the group undertakes two collaborations with Gabriel Kahane, joining the singer-songwriter for performances of Come On All You Ghosts, his composition for voice and string quartet, and of four songs from The Ambassador, his acclaimed song cycle for voice, quartet, and electric guitar (July 21).
In their recent Northwestern recital, the Dovers played Zemlinsky’s Second String Quartet, prompting the Chicago Classical Review to marvel:
“Kudos to the Dover Quartet for their adventurous program and their remarkable advocacy of Zemlinsky’s challenging score, which made the strongest possible case for this rewarding music.”
They revisit the work three times this summer, in a recital at the Edinburgh International Festival (Aug 6), during a weeklong residency at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (Aug 16–20), and at the Rosendal Chamber Music Festival. Their residency at the Norwegian festival (Aug 9–12) also features an appearance in the opening-night concert, when the Dovers play Dohnányi’s Piano Quintet in E-flat minor with Rosendal’s founding director, celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
Other highlights of the quartet’s summer programming include accounts of the Third String Quartets by Szymon Laks, during an evening-long recital at the Grand Teton Music Festival (Aug 14), and by Viktor Ullmann, in the first of three appearances at the Rockport Chamber Music Festival (July 13 & 14). Both works may be heard on Voices of Defiance 1943 1944 1945, the Dovers’ second recording for the Cedille label. Taking listeners on a powerful, often harrowing, journey through three searing works written during World War II, the album broke the top ten on Billboard’s traditional classical chart last fall, when it was welcomed as “undoubtedly one of the most compelling discs released this year” (Wall Street Journal).

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