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String quartet sharing stories of new album

Updated: 2024-01-08 17:11 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Amber Quartet performs during the event at the NCPA on Jan 7, 2024. [Photo provided to China Daily]

About a year after releasing its album Felix Mendelssohn String Quartets, Chinese ensemble Amber Quartet had a talk introducing and reviewing the recording of the album at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing on Jan 7.

Featuring two music works by the German composer — String Quartet No 2 in A Minor, Op 13 and String Quartet No 6 in F Minor, Op 80, the album, released by the classical music label Naxos, also included a music piece adapted from the composer's art song, 12 Lieder, Op 9: No 1, Frage, which was arranged for the string quartet by Yang Yichen, cellist of the ensemble.

Born into a wealthy banking family in Hamburg, Germany, Mendelssohn was a child prodigy akin to Mozart and Beethoven. He composed some of his best works as a teenager. He worked tirelessly during his short life and died in Leipzig, Germany, at the age of 38.

"In his lifetime, the composer created many great works and his many chamber works display an emotional intensity, which deserve to be heard by the audience," said Yang.

Amber Quartet shares the story behind their album, Felix Mendelssohn String Quartets, at the NCPA on Jan 7. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1827, Mendelssohn, 18 years old then, was desperately in love with a woman, who was said to be a singer in a choir he accompanied on Friday nights in Berlin. Mendelssohn posed the question "is it true?" in a song inspired by his friend Johann Gustav Droyson's poem titled Frage (German word for "question"), which he composed in 1827 and was published as Op 9, No 1. A few months after writing the song, Mendelssohn composed his second string quartet, String Quartet No 2 in A Minor, Op 13.

Mendelssohn's Op 80 is one of his few "autobiographical" works, which is a moving musical response to the grief he felt at the death of his sister Fanny in 1847. It was the last major piece he completed when his health deteriorated. He died two months after writing the piece.

Amber Quartet has held a sold-out concert at the NCPA on Dec 19, surprising their fans with an encore coming back to the stage with 11 music pieces.

Born in 2005, the string quartet features cellist Yang, first violinist Ning Fangliang, violist Qi Wang and two second violinists, Ma Weijia and Su Yajing.

Ma is also a member of China NCPA Orchestra. Yang, Ning, Qi and Su are faculty members of the Central Conservatory of Music.

In 2013, Amber Quartet was awarded three prizes at the Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition, in Melbourne, Australia. It was the first time that a Chinese string quartet won the international competition.

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