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Kronos, Pacifica Quartets Offer Thurs. Embarrassment of Riches
by Joe Shriner
New Orleans is a city known for excess, and as a consequence of two organizations’ ambitious programming (and apparent dissociation), chamber music lovers may need to flip a coin on Thursday to decide their evening plans. On November 14, at 8 pm, two eminent string quartets will perform on separate stages: Kronos Quartet plays in the Contemporary Arts Center’s Warehouse while the Pacifica Quartet performs alongside pianist Marc-André Hamelin at Dixon Hall at Tulane University.
Both celebrated ensembles lend their talents to live performance and recordings of string quartets by past and contemporary composers alike. Pacifica has gained a reputation for their consummate interpretations of works by Mendelssohn, Easley Blackwood, and several Soviet Russian composers. Their four-volume CD recordings of the complete Shostakovich string quartets have received high praise from critics, and Pacifica received a Grammy Award for their execution of Elliott Carter’s String Quartets Nos. 1 & 5 in 2009.
The 40-year-old Kronos Quartet, whom have recorded over 40 unaccompanied albums, have developed the reputation for peerless interpretations of 20th century works, with much of their repertory and albums made up of works written or arranged exclusively for them. This was the case for their recording of Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which snagged the composer a Grammy in 1990. Kronos received a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance in 2004 for their recording of Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite.
On Thursday, Kronos Quartet performs in the CAC’s Warehouse (900 Camp St.) at 8pm, continuing its 40th anniversary season with the regional premiere performance of Phillip Glass’s “String Quartet No. 6.” The program will also include works written and arranged for them by Jherek Bischoff and Bryce Dessner, composer and guitarist for band The National.
The Pacifica String Quartet makes its sixth Crescent City appearance Thursday as part of New Orleans Friends of Music 59th Season. The concert starts at 8 pm at Dixon Hall on Tulane University’s campus. Joined by Canadian virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin on piano, the ensemble will perform Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor, Leo Ornstein’s Quintet for Piano and Strings, and Dvorak’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major.
Also at Dixon Hall, musicologist John Joyce will present a free pre-concert lecture at 7 pm to discuss the works in detail. Friends of Music will continue its popular new addition of offering wine, soda, and snacks before the concert and at intermission.
Tickets for Friends of Music’s presentation of Pacifica Quartet are $30, available at the door or online, with special deals for students. Free parking is available at Diboll Garage and a free shuttle will be provided. For more information and Tulane’s campus map, visit the Friends of Music website or call (504) 895-0690.
Tickets for CAC’s presentation of Kronos Quartet are available through their website or by calling (504) 528-3800. Tickets are $35 with special rates for season subscribers and CAC members.
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