The Candlelight Concert Society will be presenting the world acclaimed piano quartet, Fauré Quartett, on Sunday October 1, 2023. The program will consist of Gabriel Fauré’s music, “Songs Arranged for Piano Quartet” and “Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15.” In addition, they will be playing Johannes Brahm’s “Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25.” The concert will be narrated by WBJC-FM host, Jonathan Palevsky.
The group is not just your usual chamber music group. The quartet is made up of Dirk Mommertz (piano), Ericka Geldsetzer (violin), Sascha Frömbling (viola) and Konstantin Heidrich (cello). The four members have experimented with very different genres, including some pop music, as well as being highly regarded for their classical pieces.
Konstantin Heidrich is cellist of the Fauré Quartett and professor of cello at the Berlin University of the Arts. His father, Peter Heidrich, violinist and composer, was important for his musical development. During his school years, he was a junior student at the Musikhochschule Lübeck with Thomas Grossenbacher. His studies then led him to Martin Ostertag in Karlsruhe and to Frans Helmerson in Cologne. Master classes with Young Chang Cho and David Geringas supported his development as a cellist. He also cites the musical influence of Steven Isserlis, Misha Katz, and Anna Galvez.
The Fauré Quartett is the center of Konstantin Heidrich’s musical life. With the same line-up since its foundation 25 years ago, this piano quartet is internationally one of the most successful chamber music formations. The Strad wrote: “They achieve superlatives everywhere they appear!” The Quartet performs not only in Europe but also in Asia and in North and South America.
As a soloist, Heidrich has worked with conductors such as Andrea Marcon and Kristjan Järvi, as well as orchestras such as the MDR Symphony Orchestra and the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Until his appointment to the Berlin University of the Arts, he was principal cellist of the Kammerakademie Potsdam and in the same position he was guest principal at the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin.
From 2006 to 2009, Konstantin taught at the Hochschule für Musik “Carl Maria von Weber” Dresden. Currently, he is an artistic advisor and lecturer for the International Sommerakadamie for chamber music. He is also a board member of the Paul Hindemith Society in Berlin and a member of the working group of the German chamber music course “Jugend musiziert.” Konstantin directs “Crescendo,” the music festival of the UdK Berlin, with his colleague Markus Groh.
His students are international prize winners and hold leading positions in renowned orchestras. In addition to courses in Washington D.C., Brescia, Singapore, and Bergen, Konstantin gives annual master classes at the Forum Artium in Georgsmarienhütte, the International Summer Academy for Chamber Music in Frenswegen, and the Festival Szczecin Classic in Poland.
Why did you choose to play the cello rather than another instrument?
Well, the cello is of course the most beautiful instrument of all since it is sounding so similar to the human voice. But, to be fair, because my father is a violinist, I probably didn’t want to risk the comparison, although to me the violin is the queen of instruments.
Can you tell us how the Fauré Quartett formed and your bond with the other members of the group?
Our violist Sascha and violinist Erika were in the same youth orchestra as teenagers. They had quite an important time there which strongly influenced them to become musicians. By coincidence, and although we are from different parts of Germany, we then all met in the city named Karlsruhe which had a very good music university. Sascha and Dirk wanted to do chamber music and since a piano trio or string quartet would have excluded one or the other, a piano quartet was the logical and beautiful compromise! I guess from our first rehearsal on, it was clear that we all shared not only the love but also the obsession for chamber music. We just rehearsed to explore and dig deep into the scores, not so much with the goal of a professional career. Our chemistry is good and we still go out to dinners together when we are on tour. I feel is our shared humor is crucial.
Can you tell us a bit about why the works of Gabriel Fauré are the quartet’s focal point and why the group chose to call themselves Fauré Quartett?
Fauré is a synonym for the romantic music of the 19th century. That’s when, by far, most of the piano quartet repertoire was composed. His style is unique and he is a hero of poetic and simple melodies being carried by colorful harmonies. In his songs and his chamber music, he becomes so personal. “Chamber music is the real music and the most sincere expression of a personality” is a quote by Fauré. Since the year we started the group was Fauré’s 150th anniversary, we knew what to do.
The quartet plays modern music as well as classical music. Which modern and which classical composer do you most enjoy performing?
I don’t have a clear answer to that, I am afraid. It is true that we enjoy stylistically very different music from early classical to pop—or from very long and layered music composed by Enescu to the simple and short works of Tansman. We like music by Mozart who wrote original pieces for piano quartet and Mussorgsky, whose “Pictures at an Exhibition” we play in an (extremely convincing) arrangement version by our pianist. Brahms plays a special role. So does Mendelssohn, Fauré, and Schumann—“Variatio delectat” variation is delightful. The music, no matter which style, has to be good. I think we agree on that!
I ask this to all musical artist for our younger readers. How many hours did you practice as a youngster and how many hours do you practice every week now?
In any case, not enough! One is never finished. But, trying to be more serious, if you practice six hours throughout the day with a really high quality of mental freshness and with breaks in between, and doing this over a time period of several years, you might get quite far. Practicing without developing your musical mind on the other hand might not be as successful though.
“Faure Quartett, piano quartet” will be held Sunday, October 1, 2023 at the Horowitz Center at Howard County Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044. For information about this and others performances this season, go to their website. For tickets, go online.
There is a special 50% discount for Maryland Theatre Guide Readers. To take advantage of this offer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject title “MD Theatre Guide ticket discount” and Candlelight’s staff will assist you accordingly.