The Shanghai Quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. They're also finishing up a 14 year residency at the University of Richmond and will take on a residency at the Modlin Center for the Arts. One of their current projects is playing through the complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets, which they'll do in a series of concerts in Richmond, around the U.S., and in China.
While Beethoven, and classical music in general, are quite popular in China, Shanghai violinist Weigang Li reveals that chamber music has yet to be popularized in his native land. The Shanghai Quartet plans to bring the Beethoven cycle to China's universities in hopes to break that trend. Weigang explains, "They should at least have one hearing of a great quartet playing best of the classical music, and maybe they'll decide they like it."
As they bring western classical music to the east, the Shanghai Quartet has brought eastern music to the west with string quartet versions of chinese music, arranged by Shanghai violinist Yi-Wen Jiang. About these arrangements, Yi-Wen explains, "I grew up with many of these pieces, and played some as solo works for violin and piano during the difficult days of the Cultural Revolution. I asked myself: 'Why not arrange them for string quartet, which is the form I love the most? That way I can play beautiful Chinese music again and also bring it to a wider audience with my group, the Shanghai Quartet.'"
The Shanghai Quartet
Eugenia Zukerman, piano
Delos Records 3308
Released: November 2002
Jason Vieaux -- PT Young Artist-in-Residence
The Shanghai Quartet was guest artist during Vieaux's residency.
Jeremy Denk -- PT Young Artist-in-Residence
The Shanghai Quartet was guest artist during Denk's residency.