A crowd packed the School of Music’s Organ Hall to hear the talented and inspiring Beo String Quartet on Friday night.
Created in 2015, the Beo String Quartet formed as an exploration of live performance and string quartet masterpieces. The 21st century is a strange and interesting time for classical music in a lot of ways, and the Beo String Quartet works to showcase and highlight the music of the modern day along with reigniting the music of the past.
As a group, they work frequently in North Carolina, so playing a recital in Greensboro is something familiar. They have a continued residency at the Charlotte New Music Festival, and now they spent the last week in a residency at UNCG.
The Beo String Quartet offered a masterclass, a music reading session and an entrepreneurship lecture to music students last week. These classes provided invaluable advice and resources to UNCG’s musicians and composers.
In the masterclass, string quartets made up of music students played for the Beo String Quartet, who offered them advice and coaching in return. The music reading session was a time to play through new compositions, something that the members of the Beo String Quartet are passionate about. Finally, on Friday morning, the quartet joined forces with renowned new music composer Steven Bryant for a class on entrepreneurship.
Friday night’s recital was the culmination of the Beo String Quartet’s time at UNCG, marking the end of their brief but noteworthy residency in the School of Music.
They opened with Ligeti’s String Quartet no. 1, also known as the “Métamorphoses nocturnes.” György Ligeti was a prolific composer of the 20th century, and he often experimented with different compositional techniques. His innovative spirit pours out into his music, and his first quartet of 1954 is no different.
Ligeti’s String Quartet no. 1 is an interesting piece, written in one continuous movement consisting of 17 different sections. Each part contrasts the last, offering different tempos and moods and creating many different changes in about 20 minutes. The music conjures various feelings and techniques for the ensemble, and the Beo String Quartet maneuvered each one with artistry. They play as an extremely cohesive group, talented as individuals and even better all together.
As the Beo String Quartet is passionate about new music, their recital featured a work by a member of the School of Music’s composing faculty. Alejandro Rutty’s “Exhaling Space” is an extremely energetic and passionate work that was very enjoyable for the audience.
Though less than ten minutes in length, “Exhaling Space” explores a wide range of the techniques and possibilities for string instruments. From percussive sounds to glissandos and an emphasis on strumming pizzicatos, there are many different ideas here that offer aural interest. The ensemble works together in moments and more separately in others, often growing towards moments that burst with energy.
Rutty’s “Exhaling Space” presents the Beo String Quartet at its best, expertly performing new and different music.
“Easy-going, stylish and vehemently precise: how music should always be and how the Beo [String] Quartet plays. I loved working with them,” Rutty said.
The evening ended with Bartok’s String Quartet No. 4, a piece that was a huge influence to Ligeti in the composition of his first String Quartet, which was featured first on the program.
Like the Rutty piece performed prior, Bartok’s quartet plays with many extended techniques. Most notably, the fourth movement is played all in pizzicato. The quartet is well known for being symmetrical, as the themes in the first and last movements are related, and the movements alternate between being around six and three minutes long.
This is another piece comfortably seated in the Beo String Quartet’s wheelhouse. There were cohesive moments gelled together seamlessly, and other moments bursting at the seams.
The Beo String Quartet is extremely familiar with this Bartok quartet, and it showed in the performance. Recently, they produced a studio recording of Bartok’s Quartet No. 4, making it one of the most notable pieces in the Beo String Quartet’s repertoire.
Naturally, this deep understanding of the piece led to an incredible performance – the perfect closer for the night.
The Beo String Quartet’s recital is one of many guest artist recitals hosted by the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Check out the CVPA’s website for a schedule of events, including more recitals that feature new music.