From The Early Work To The Late
Although the Pacifica's concert is all Beethoven, the quartets span twenty-five years. First violinist Simin Ganatra says, "We begin with a fairly early quartet. The 'No. 2' is our favorite from Opus 18. It has real conversational elements, and we get to interact in different characters."
The second quartet is a middle work. "Opus 74 is nicknamed 'The Harp' quartet. In the first movement, while I'm holding chords, the three others pass a melody around as they all play pizzicato."
The major work of the afternoon is the Op. 131, No. 14. After hearing it, Franz Schubert is reported to have said, 'After this, what is left to write?' Ganatra acknowledges that Beethoven also thought it was one of his best works.
"The quartet is such an incredible emotional journey, and so well crafted. It's a seven-movement work where there are no stops. What's amazing is how he gets from one part to the next. Beethoven sort of transforms the melody, and suddenly you're in a new character."
Ganatra sums up Beethoven's appeal as a personal one. "The quartets still speak to people in a very personal way. I think it's the personal element in his music that really brings so many of us to truly love it. Playing Beethoven is one of the greatest pleasures for a string quartet."