The Complete Beethoven Cycle 2 Book Tickets

Thursday 12 October

RTÉ Contempo Quartet – Beethoven Music for a Later Age

Beethoven String Quartet No. 2, Op. 18 No. 2 in G
Raymond Deane Quartet No. 6 (RTÉ commission)
Beethoven String Quartet No. 8, Op. 59 No. 2 in E minor, ‘Razumovsky’

Beethoven’s String Quartets were increasingly marked by a modernity beyond their time. Gleefully Classical in spirit, the Second Quartet is also eager for the new, the Eighth Quartet straining at the leash of tradition. Raymond Deane’s String Quartet VI is an intricate set of collisions between distinctive separate elements.


Conspicuous in Beethoven’s String Quartets is his desire to move his musical language away from the confines of tradition and towards greater complexity of expression. Their searching for a new sophistication anticipates the clinical exploration of music’s building blocks that would only begin to be articulated in the 20th Century.

Rooted in the idioms of Mozart and Haydn, the Second Quartet is more than mere musical mimickry, with surprises aplenty hinting at new directions.

The Eighth Quartet (the second Razumovsky Quartet) is more explicit in its testing of boundaries, the brittle beauty of its serene second movement as intimate and interior as anything Beethoven wrote.

Raymond Deane’s RTÉ-commissioned String Quartet VI constantly builds, dis-assembles and re-constructs its material in a thoroughly modern interrogation of musical form.

Beethoven’s sixteen quartets and the Grosse Fugue still stand today as some of the most extraordinary and innovative music ever composed. Written over a span of thirty years in roughly three blocks, Beethoven took the form, perfected by “Papa Haydn” and developed further by Mozart , completely revising and transforming it.

Nos. 1-6, written when he was in his late twenties were early explorations into the form and although lighter than many of the later works there is always a dark side too. The Middle Quartets have at their core the three Razumovskys, commissioned by Count (later Prince) Razumovsky which included Russian themes. Already aware of his deafness, he wrote on one of the sketches:

“Make no secret of your deafness, not even in art!”

The five Late Quartets and Grosse Fugue undoubtedly represent the ultimate in quartet writing, the very best of Beethoven’s genius, described by him to his musicians as:

“music not for you, but for a later age”

Ten Irish works complement each of the nine programmes, with works dating from 1934 to the present day, including three new RTÉ commissions.


The RTÉ Contempo Quartet is one of the most exciting and vibrant chamber ensembles performing today. The members studied together in Bucharest, formed a quartet in 1995 and were appointed as Galway Music Residency’s Quartet in Residence in 2003 and RTÉ’s Quartet in Residence in May 2014. They have given over 120 performances for RTÉ so far with another 40+ planned for the 2017-18 season.

“Full of telling detail…this was a performance undertaken out of love for the music” (Irish Times, 2016)

In its three previous seasons for RTÉ the Quartet has focused on the core repertoire of Haydn and Bartók in particular, with the complete Beethoven Cycle to perform during 2017-18 including three new commissions by Irish composers. At the heart of every performance is the desire to communicate to its audience both the love of, and delight in the music, and the Quartet has gained many new fans with its fresh and enthusiastic approach to a wide variety of repertoire. They continue in their role as educators with quartet workshop sessions in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin as well as one-to-one teaching in the RIAM and DIT colleges.

Season At A Glance