The Magic Flute was first performed in France under the title Isis’ Mysteries in 1801, ten years after the Vienna premiere. The title referred to the work’s masonic character and reflected the prevailing interest in Ancient Egypt at that time in Paris. This was the context that brought an anonymous French composer to write a transcription of the overture and the most famous arias for string quartet.
Mozart wrote his fourth quartet at 17. The work is still full of innocence but bears the promise of more and more freedom in musical language. The four instruments can be seen as opera personae and express operatic emotions, a revolution which will be at its height in Mozart’s last works and more specifically in his last 10 quartets.
We will finish the concert with Debussy’s impressionist masterpiece, his string quartet opus 10. In this odyssey, players have to go beyond their instruments’ usual sounds, describing natural phenomena and elements and imitating other instruments (like the Javanese gamelan in the second movement). An invitation to a journey of colors, modes, textures and exotic rhythms that unheard of in the string quartet repertoire.