Escher String Quartet
Gilles Vonsattel, pianist
Escher String Quartet—an ensemble championed by Emerson String Quartet, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman—makes its Penn State debut in a program featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23. Pianist Gilles Vonsattel joins the quartet to perform the world premiere of All Roads by San Francisco-born composer Anthony Cheung. The five-movement work, inspired by Billy Strayhorn’s Lotus Blossom, was co-commissioned by the Center for the Performing Arts through its membership in the Music Accord consortium. The five musicians also perform Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34.
The Escher ensemble, formed in 2005, has earned applause for its expressive, nuanced performances that combine unusual textural clarity with a rich, blended sound. A former BBC New Generation Artist, the quartet is one of the few chamber ensembles to win the Avery Fisher Career Grant. The quartet has performed with a number of classical music luminaries, but it also has collaborated with jazz artists such as Joshua Redman, Kurt Elling, and Paquito D’Rivera.
In its hometown of New York City, the quartet serves as Season Artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The ensemble—violinists Adam Barnett-Hart and Danbi Um, violist Pierre Lapointe, and cellist Brook Speltz—is also quartet in residence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Vonsattel, winner of the Naumburg and Geneva piano competitions, is a musician of versatility and originality. The Swiss-born American artist, who displays a sense of adventure and musical curiosity, performs an enormous range of repertoire. An Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, Vonsattel in recent years has made his Boston Symphony, Tanglewood, and San Francisco Symphony debuts. A New York Times critic describes his most recent New York City recital as “tightly conceived and passionately performed … a study in intensity.”
Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before this performance, but members of the quartet and Cheung will engage in a conversation with audience members after the concert.