Repertoire

The Dante Quartet’s repertoire is wide-ranging, focusing on the great classics but including many unusual works. We enjoy discussing programmes with promoters, and welcome special requests which lead us in unexpected directions. As plans for each season develop, we start to dovetail the programmes to ensure the highest standard for each concert. The programmes and projects outlined above form a starting point for discussion.

Four sample programmes:

1. Great Quartet Masters

  • Haydn – op 20 no 2 in C
  • Shostakovich – no 3 in F
  • Beethoven – op 131 in C# minor

Three startlingly original works from three different centuries.

2. The Complete Razumovskys:

  • The Complete Razumovskys:
  • Beethoven op 59/1 in F
  • Beethoven op 59/2 in E minor
  • Beethoven op 59/3 in C

Each one of these three great works is conventionally used in isolation as the main feature of a concert programme; however, we have found that back-to-back they bounce off one another to form a glorious, epic span.

3. Joachim and friends

  • Mendelssohn – Capriccio
  • Joachim – Romance in Bb
  • Stanford – quartet no 5 in Bb (Homage to Joachim)
  • Schumann – quartet no 2 in F

While Stanford’s choral music is much adored by choirs the world over, his instrumental music has been unfairly neglected, and so we are delighted to be recording his quartets and bringing them to the concert stage. Stanford’s fifth string quartet pays homage to his close friend the great 19thC violinist Joseph Joachim, quoting extensively from his charming Romance. Joachim loved Brahms’s A minor quartet and would have played it many times.

4. Russian Themes

  • Tchaikovsky – quartet no 1 in D
  • Shostakovich – quartet no 8
  • Beethoven – quartet op 59 no 2 in E minor (Razumovsky)

Count Razumovsky generously supported Beethoven and commissioned the set of three opus 59s; however, he asked Beethoven to include a Russian theme in each of the quartets in honour of his Russian heritage. Shostakovich wrote his most celebrated quartet as “a requiem to himself” in the midst of Stalinist oppression, while Glazunov’s rarely heard Prelude and Fugue pays passionate homage to Bach.

Ongoing large projects:

Beethoven cycle: In 2016 we performed the complete Beethoven cycle in a single marathon weekend (see review here), so now promoters may request any of Beethoven’s quartets, subject to the dovetailing process outlined above. In addition, we are currently developing an unusual dramatized Beethoven programme in conjunction with playwright Clare Norburn, in which selected Beethoven quartets will be interspersed with readings and narrative, featuring actor David Stimson as Beethoven. For details of this, see our Projects page.

Shostakovich cycle: We have been invited to perform Shostakovich’s complete quartets in October 2018, and will be developing this repertoire over the coming two seasons. We are keen to include Shostakovich in our programmes – possibly paired with Beethoven.

Stanford cycle: At the invitation of SOMM Records, we have started recording the neglected and largely unpublished quartets of Charles Villiers Stanford. The first CD, of quartets nos. 5 and 8, has just appeared and is attracting enthusiastic reviews. Three more discs will follow over the next two years. Stanford’s quartets fit well alongside Schumann, Brahms or Dvorak, or in an English context with composers such as Elgar and Vaughan Williams, Stanford’s illustrious student.

Recent repertoire list:

  • Haydn op 20/3, 33/1 (the Bird), 33/2 (the Joke), 50/5 (the Dream), 54/5 (the Lark), 77/2
  • Beethoven: complete quartets
  • Mendelssohn op 13 in A minor, op 80 in F minor, Capriccio
  • Schubert “Rosamunde”, “Death and the Maiden”
  • Schumann no 2 in F
  • Debussy, Ravel, Faure
  • Bartok no 4
  • Janacek no2, “Intimate Letters”
  • Stanford nos 5 and 8
  • Derek Simpson no 12
  • Matthew Taylor no 5
  • Jonathan Dove “Who Wrote the Book of Love?” (song cycle for baritone with quartet)