Minetti Quartett plays ‘the zest for life’ during Chico visit


The Minetti Quartett receives applause just before intermission. Photo credit: Mitchell Kret

The Minetti Quartett visited Chico in Zingg Recital Hall during their tour across the Western U.S. Sunday, March 24. The Austrian string quartet played three collections of music by Haydn, Shostakovich and Schubert, giving the performance strong emotion and contrast.

“…from zest for life,” they said about the theme of their performance. “infused witty humor to deep sadness and desperation.”

The band has been playing together since about 2002, celebrating their 15-year anniversary in the 2017-2018 season and continuing into 2019. The quartet features Maria Ehmer and Anna Knopp playing violin, Milan Milojicic playing viola and Leonhard Roczek playing cello. Their name “Minetti Quartett” originates from a play by Thomas Bernhard, who lived in Ohlsdorf in the Salzkammergut where Ehmer and Knopp grew up.

They were nominated for “Rising Stars” of the “European Concert Hall Organization” and have since then won many international chamber music competitions, including the Schubert Competition and Haydn Competition. They have played in prestigious concert halls all across the world and have been recorded and broadcast internationally.

The quartet opened their performance with Haydn’s Quartet No. 30 in E♭ major, Op. 33, No.2 which is a very upbeat and fun collection, with multiple light flourishes and finger-picking throughout that made it an exciting, high-energy start to their performance. Haydn’s quartets often exemplify the contrasting emotions, with close and yet extremely different emotions that the Minetti Quartett highlighted throughout the entire performance.

Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7 followed, which definitely showed the other emotional extreme. The piece was written for his late wife, and it shows in its sadness and desperation as well as anger, all while include melodies that show how valuable his memories of her were. The Minetti Quartett transitioned beautifully from the upbeat happiness of Haydn’s “The Joke” to Shostakovich’s deeply personal and melancholy composition.

The Minetti Quartett closed their performance with Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15, an almost 45 minute piece that deals heavily in existential questions of the universe. The song emits a sense of wonder as well as confusion and deals with the questions of “what has to be” and “what does not have to be.”

Chico Performances will be hosting many more shows through the Spring 2019 semester. For more information and scheduling, check their website ChicoPerformances.com.

Mitchell Kret can be reached at [email protected] or @mkret222 on Twitter.