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Nostalgia and New Visions From the Arneis Quartet on San Francisco Classical Voice

04. 04. 2023

In its recent concert “Sounds From the Past,” the Arneis Quartet combined two works that examine history. But as composers recall history, it demonstrates both their nostalgia and their forward-thinking vision. Beethoven’s Op. 130 String Quartet transforms a variety of 18th-century forms into new shapes; Yessori, by the contemporary South Korean composer Soo Yeon Lyuh, draws from Korean folk traditions to create a distinctive idiom.

In devising the evening’s 10th-anniversary program (long postponed by COVID), the Arneis Quartet had cause to reflect on its own history as well. Like Beethoven and Lyuh, Arneis’s members considered some of the music that has shaped them while also modernizing their voice for the contemporary moment. They write in their printed program that “supporting our fellow composers became one of Arneis’s new visions during the pandemic.”...

... As they turned toward the Beethoven, however, there was no doubt that the players were experienced guides. Each member’s deep understanding of the work’s motifs and themes was on show. As with many of Beethoven’s seminal works, much of Op. 130 takes simple thematic material and, through invention and a multitude of permutations, makes it extraordinary. The piece also calls for virtuosity, which the group displayed in spades, whether in violinist Heather Braun’s heroic upright forte in the Presto movement or cellist Agnes Kim’s articulate and cultured basslines in the piece’s dance movements...

...Playing something beautiful is an elusive enough quest for a quartet. Trying to say something new, through either historical or contemporary repertoire, is an additional challenge. “Sounds From the Past” showed four players wrestling with many of the same questions as their peers in pursuit of both these goals. The Arneis Quartet has more than proven itself a capable ensemble in both these arenas. As its scope widens over the next decade, one hopes that Arneis will love and live in music like Lyuh’s, just as they have Beethoven’s, so that the voices of fellow composers speak vitally and vibrantly.

RUEHR 'Icarus' and other chamber music
on The Gramophone


...One could not ask for a more committed roster of performers. The Worlds Revolve and Icarus were commissioned for the Borromeo Quartet to perform with Donald Berman and John Manasse respectively, whose exemplary performances are captured here in fine sound. Insect Dances was written for the Arneis Quartet, whose vivacious rendition concludes the disc. They were co-commissioners, with the Quartet Nouveau and Delgani Quartet, of the Seventh; the Delgani are the captivating executants here. Once again, Mark Wilsher has remastered the recordings, made on four occasions in 2019 and 2021, with consummate skill. Recommended.

Leslie Parnas, Celebrated Cellist and Musical Diplomat, Dies at 90
on The New York Times 


... Mr. Parnas focused on teaching, including at Boston University, where he was an adjunct associate professor of music from 1963 to 2013.

Agnes Kim, a cellist who studied with him from 2004 to 2008, said he had spoken often about the importance of not letting technique interfere with musical expression.

“He was a legendary teacher, but to me he was never that faraway, mystical person,” she said. “He was just so friendly, so humble. He always had his playful grin every time I went to the classroom.”..

Arneis Quartet on The Boston Globe 


The Boston-based Arneis Quartet (violinists Heather Braun and Rose Drucker, violist Daniel Doña, cellist Agnes Kim) takes its name from a variety of grape that is notoriously difficult to cultivate. Wine aficionado websites reveal many things that can go wrong with the fruit; harvest it too late, or the weather’s too warm, or disease spreads through the vineyard, and it’s all over.

The three American works that the string quartet performed Friday night at Massachusetts Institute of Technology were appropriately devilish for a group named for such a grape: the rhythmic labyrinth of Elena Ruehr’s String Quartet No. 3, the heady hymns of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 3, the lightning-in-a-jar modernism of Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet. With high risks came high reward, and the Arneis Quartet offered an intense, indelible experience to the small crowd in Killian Hall...

Britten’s Pure Admiration for Purcell
on The Boston Musical Intelligencer


...The influence of Purcell, whom Britten held in great esteem, infused the entire event. Britten filled his Quartet No. 2 in C Major, written in 1945 for the 250th anniversary of Purcell’s death, with the earlier composer’s expressive devices, though transformed by 20th-century sensibilities. And in particular, his use of the archaic term Chacony for the third movement paid special homage. The Arneis Quartet (first violinist Heather Braun-Bakken, second violinist Rose Drucker, violist Daniel Doña, and cellist Agnes Kim) ably met Britten’s demands for the expressive possibilities of the quartet medium. Doña also wrote the very lucid, erudite program notes...

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