Close Encounters with Music Presents the Ariel String Quartet Performing Works by Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Leos Janacek – the String Quartet as Psychological Drama

Photograph of the Ariel String Quartet

Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 6 PM
The Ariel String Quartet–Schumann, Brahms, Janáček
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
Great Barrington, MA

Three “storied” string quartets share the theme of a love triangle. The first three years of Schumann’s marriage to his beloved Clara Wieck were an exceedingly productive period for the young composer, and the time when he focused on the genre of the string quartet, producing the String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, one of the most poignant and satisfying of his works. Brahms, Clara’s platonic and cherished confidante and friend, reportedly destroyed some twenty string quartets before allowing the two Op. 51 quartets to be published, the achingly beautiful A minor No. 2 being one of these. And from the heart of Central Europe in the first quarter of the twentieth century, comes the penetrating, challenging, occasionally disturbing and ever rewarding work by noted opera composer Leoš Janáček (Jenufa, Cunning Little Vixen, etc.), a musical recreation of Tolstoy’s short story “Kreutzer Sonata.” The Quartet No. 1, which in turn took its inspiration from Beethoven’s violin sonata of that name, was intended to protest the tyranny of men over women. In the novella, a wife seeks refuge from an unhappy marriage in the arms of an amoral seducer, and dies tragically after doing so, and the music reflects the plot. Czech polkas (Janáček), Hungarian folk dances (Brahms), movements by turn lyrical and propulsive—penetrating and amorous music adorn this program by the redoubtable Ariel Quartet, refashioned and re-titled “Love Triangles.”

“Playing with exceptional boldness and confidence — a blazing, larger-than-life performance that seemed to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit” (Washington Post)

The Ariel String Quartet: Gershon Gerchikov, violin; Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Jan Grüning, viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello; with Yehuda Hanani, cello


Tickets, $50 (Orchestra and Mezzanine), $27 (Balcony) and $15 for students, are available at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, call 413-528-0100 or visit Season subscriptions are $250 ($225 for seniors) Visit our website for more information.


Characterized by its youth, brilliant playing, and soulful interpretations, the ARIEL STRING QUARTET has quickly earned a glowing international reputation. The Quartet was formed in Israel sixteen years ago when its members were students and they have been playing together ever since. Recently awarded the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award, the Quartet serves as the Faculty Quartetin-Residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where they direct the chamber music program and perform their own annual series of concerts. The Ariel recently made its debut at Carnegie Hall, presented music by three generations of Israeli composers at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and toured South America. They also collaborated with pianist Orion Weiss in a program commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One. The Quartet appears widely in Israel, Europe, and North America, and continues to astonish with its performances of complete works by memory. They toured with cellist Alisa Weilerstein during the 2013-14 season, and perform regularly with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler. Additionally, they served as quartet-in-residence for the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, and the Perlman Music Program, and were the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-In-Residence at the Caramoor Festival. Formerly the resident ensemble in the New England Conservatory’s Professional String Quartet Training Program, the Ariel has won a number of international prizes including the Grand Prize at the 2006 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and first prize at the international competition “Franz Schubert and The Music of Modernity” in Graz, Austria, in 2003. After they won the Székely Prize for their performance of Bartók, as well as the overall third prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2007, the American Record Guide described them as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power” and called their performance of Beethoven’s Op. 132 “the pinnacle of the competition.” They spent a formative year in Basel, Switzerland, studying with Walter Levin, the founding first violinist of the LaSalle Quartet. The Quartet has received substantial scholarship support for the members’ studies in the United States from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Dov and Rachel Gottesman, and the Legacy Heritage Fund. Members of the Quartet are Gershon Gerchikov and Alexandra Kazovsky, violin; Jan Grüning viola; Amit Even-Tov, cello.

Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani’s charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. An extraordinary recitalist, he is equally renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among others. He has been a guest at Aspen, Bowdoin, Chautauqua, Marlboro, Yale at Norfolk, Round Top (TX), Great Lakes, and Grand Canyon festivals, Finland Festival, Great Wall (China), Leicester (England), Ottawa, Prades (France), Oslo, and Australia Chamber Music festivals, and has collaborated in performances with preeminent fellow musicians, including Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Dawn Upshaw, Shlomo Mintz, Yefim Bronfman, the Tokyo, Vermeer, Muir, Lark, Avalon, Amernet, and Manhattan quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano, as well as members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Borromeo, and Emerson. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. His pioneering recording of the monumental Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination, and his other discs have won wide recognition. On CD and in live performances, he has premiered works of Nicolai Miaskovsky, Lukas Foss, Leo Ornstein, Joan Tower, Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Jorge Martín, and Bernard Rands, among other composers. Mr. Hanani has been committed to extending the range of the cello repertoire and to collaborating with performers in many artistic realms, including actors Jane Alexander, Richard Chamberlain and Sigourney Weaver. Professor of Cello at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he presents masterclasses internationally at conservatories and for orchestras, including the Juilliard School, University of Indiana at Bloomington, New England Conservatory, McGill University, Peabody Conservatory, Paris Conservatoire, Berlin Hochschule für Music, Royal Academy of Music in London, Tokyo National University, Jerusalem Academy of Music, Guildhall School in London, Central Conservatory of Shanghai and Central Conservatory of Beijing, and the New World Symphony in Miami. His engaging chamber music with commentary series, Close Encounters With Music, has captivated audiences from Miami to Kansas City, Omaha, Calgary, Scottsdale, the Berkshires, and at the Frick Collection in New York City. A three-time recipient of the Martha Baird Rockefeller grant, Mr. Hanani’s studies were with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School and with Pablo Casals. His best-selling recording of the Unaccompanied Bach Suites has become a standard-setter, and of his recent Naxos CD with the National Symphony of Ireland Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Renowned cellist Yehuda Hanani, great virtuoso that he is, handles this with astounding aplomb…This is certainly a splendid release, and should by no means be passed up.” Aimed at outreach for classical music, his weekly program on NPR affiliate station WAMC Northeast Radio, “Classical Music According to Yehuda,” has gained thousands of fans for the direct broadcast and podcast. He directs the High Peaks Festival, a teaching and chamber music festival that takes place in 2018 on the campus of the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA. Soloist, chamber musician, master teacher, essayist, and ambassador for the arts, Yehuda Hanani illuminates and enlightens audiences on the essence of music.


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time: Paul Schoenfield, Robert Beaser, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Erin Keefe; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, and Kelley O’Connor; the Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, and Dover quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

Close Encounters on the Radio/Podcast
Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and audiences are encouraged to tune in to the new weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” on WAMC Northeast Radio. Visit