Mandelring Quartet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mandelring Quartet 

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In the late 20s and early 30s Berthold Goldschmidt was a young composer on the verge of a brilliant career. A student of the influential teacher Franz Schreker and later an artistic adviser for the Berlin State Opera, he favored an extravagant expressionism over the then-fashionable serialism. His first string quartet won praise from Schoenberg; his vocal music exuded the pungent sarcasm of his friend Kurt Weill; and his opera The Magnificent Cuckold revealed an ambitious talent. But in 1933 the Nazis branded Goldschmidt a "degenerate" artist. His music was banned, and he fled to London with his future wife, the sister of an SS officer. In 1936, a year after his escape, Goldschmidt wrote his String Quartet no. 2, a moody, lyrical song of exile in the mold of Beethoven's late quartets, an artistic equal of Shostakovich's anguished musical statements. But Goldschmidt's sweeping tonal compositions weren't accepted by the postwar mainstream, so he earned a living as a maestro until retiring in the early 80s. Now 90, Goldschmidt is witnessing the revival of his music, a decade-long phenomenon aided in part by the Hamburg-based Mandelring Quartet. The youthful Mandelring--consisting of three Schmidt siblings (Sebastian, Nanette, and Bernhard) and violist Michael Scheitzbach--have recorded three Goldschmidt string quartets (the last written when the composer was 85) and a clarinet quartet (written when he was 80). In their Chicago debut, the Mandelring will perform Goldschmidt's String Quartet no. 2, as well as works by Felix Mendelssohn and Gyorgy Ligeti, a Hungarian-born avant-gardist who fled his homeland in 1956 because of Soviet cultural repression and anti-Semitism. Wednesday, 7 PM, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan; 322-1769.


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