18:24 PM

Mercury: A 'new way to discover' Beethoven, Ravel in Bayou Theater



There are always new ways to experience music, even music written centuries ago by the world's most notable composers. "Our upcoming concert is a new way to discover Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 130, and Maurice Ravel's String Quartet 35," said Antoine Plante, artistic director of Mercury Chamber Orchestra.

Mercury's performance, to take place at the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. highlights two very important works of Beethoven and Ravel, but rearranged with their signature unique, creative style.

"These works were written for string quartets, but I assign the music differently," Plante said. "I have created a concert piece that's a string symphony. Instead of four people, there will be 20 people performing it, which makes it much grander. That's part of what makes this performance interesting."

Plante said these compositions were written at the peak of the composers' skills. "Another reason I think this is interesting for the audience is that string quartets are not performed that much," he said. "This is a way to bring this beautiful, important work to the audience in a new way."

He added that Beethoven had written Opus 130 toward the end of his life, at a time when he was no longer composing as he had during the earlier part of his career.

"Generally, this piece would have been written in four movements and would have followed a certain frame and form, but when he had this last inspiration in his life, he didn't feel the need to work that way anymore," he said. "He destroyed the earlier form. This quartet is in six movements, and their internal framework is not the way the earlier ones were written. Thank God he didn't feel that he had to do it that way anymore."

He added that Beethoven's audiences as well as critics disliked the piece. In fact, the backlash was so intense, Beethoven was compelled to rewrite the last movement. "We are performing the edited last movement; it's lighter," Plante said.

Plante said that to him, Ravel's piece sounded like Paris. "It's active, noisy, chaotic, colorful and very French," he said. "It brings me back to the life and culture of Paris."

He said he'd taken the score of Ravel's string quartet and rearranged it so that it would lend itself to more solo moments. "Sometimes a member of the orchestra becomes a soloist, then others are supporting," he said. "There is more individuality in this; it's a different way to listen to it.

To purchase tickets, or to find out more about upcoming events at the Bayou Theater at UHCL, go online.