Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet - Mark Steinberg, violin, Serena Canin, violin, Misha Amory, viola, and Nina Maria Lee, cello - has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. The New York Times extols its "luxuriously warm sound [and] yearning lyricism," while the Los Angeles Times praises its playing as "brilliant" and "virtuosic." Following many years as Artists in Residence at Princeton University, since 2014 they have been Artists in Residence at Yale University. The Quartet also currently serves as the collaborative ensemble for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and its recordings span music of several centuries, from Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert to Charles Wuorinen and Steven Mackey.
The Brentano String Quartet's program explores music of Vienna, opening with Franz Josef Haydn's intimate and easily ingratiating Quartet in B minor, Op. 64 No. 2. The program continues with a "conversation" across the centuries that intertwines Anton Webem's fleeting, prismatic Bagatellen, Op. 9 with Franz Schubert's charming Minuets, D. 89, and ends with the String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1 by Johannes Brahms, the first of his near twenty attempts to write a string quartet that he felt worthy of publishing, encouraged by his close friend, the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim. Brahms was particularly daunted by the looming shadow of Beethoven, once remarking, "You don't know what it means to the likes of us when we hear his footsteps behind us." This shadow notwithstanding, Brahms's passionate C-minor Quartet has long been regarded as one of the pillars of the string quartet repertoire.