Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Introducing the Mosaïques, part II

When I got a call last year from New York asking whether the San Diego Early Music Society would be interested in presenting the Quatuor Mosaïques, I did not hesitate very long. Such a rare opportunity was too hard to pass up, even if it meant that the concert had to be on a weekday evening. It turns out that San Diego will be the last leg of an impressive US tour: Carnegie Hall New York, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Library of Congress, University of Chicago, Cal Performances in Berkeley, and in Vancouver, a co-presentation by the Friends of Chamber Music and Early Music Vancouver. I must say it feels rather good to be in such a distinguished company of presenters. Not to mention the quartet's usually -sold out- venues in Europe such as the Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Wigmore Hall in London and Theatre de la Ville in Paris.

Sell-outs in Vienna and Paris are no surprise, since three members of the quartet are Austrian (Erich Höbarth, violin Andrea Bischof, violin and Anita Mitterer, alto) and one, the cellist Christophe Coin, is French. But why a French name? It appears that the idea originated with Christophe Coin, who in 1984 founded the Ensemble Mosaïques, a chamber orchestra which he dissolved one year later, keeping the name for the string quartet he then founded with the section leaders of the defunct orchestra. Christophe Coin has had quite an impressive career. He studied cello first with Andre Navarra in Paris, then moved to Vienna where he worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and performed in the Concentus Musicus Vienna. He also studied viola da gamba with Jordi Savall in Basle and performed in Hesperion XX.

Coin was also a member and soloist in the Academy of Ancient Music, and he also -more recently- recorded Vivaldi's cello concertos with Il Giardino Armonico. Since 1991 he has been the director of the Limoges Baroque Ensemble, which he brought to international recognition with a series of recordings of Bach cantatas. He also heads the baroque cello and viola da gamba classes at the Paris Conservatory. Needless to say, he is widely regarded as one of the leading cellists and musicians of the baroque movement.

I already introduced Erich Höbarth in the previous post, and the two other members of this extraordinary quartet are also well known in the baroque movement. Andrea Bischof and Anita Mitterer are both permanent members of the Concentus Musicus but have also very impressive achievements elsewhere. Andrea Mitterer has held the position of Konzertmeisterin and soloist of the Austrian Bach Soloists, and is Professor of Chamber Music at the Musikhochschule in Vienna. Anita Mitterer -who plays the violin in the CMV- is also Director of the Baroque Ensemble of Salzburg and teaches violin and viola at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

This concert will be the last of their US tour, and it will also be the last of our 2008-2009 International Series. This was an early music journey that started in the 14th century with Machaut and Diabolus in Musica, took us through the Renaissance with ALSQ, and let us wander in the baroque era with Bach and Vivaldi. I could not think of a better ending than looking forward to Haydn and Mozart with such extraordinary musicians.
Laurent Planchon

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