This String Quartet Says Sheet Music Is A Distraction…

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What sounds better than a celebrated string quartet performing works by Brahms?  Knowing that they performed it entirely from memory.

The Chiara String Quartet will release an album titled Brahms by Heart on March 25th, 2014.  The album includes recordings of three string quartets and one quintet, which the group performed with violist Roger Tapping.  The pieces were recorded at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, where they were performed without any sheet music.

Chiara says memorizing the music has made them better performers.  Because of this, the group has decided to perform their full repertoire almost entirely from memory in concert.

They now see sheet music as a distraction“.

For reference, here’s a video of the group playing the Ravel String Quartet, Movement I from memory:

8 Responses

  1. CBQ

    Yeah no-one’s interested in this because it the music’s too difficult. Troglodytes…

  2. Paul Resnikoff

    Oh great, there goes the sheet music business ;D.

    Actually, anyone from Washington, D.C. remember Dale’s on Georgia Avenue? Not sure if it succumbed to the bulldozer, but that was one of the greatest places to buy sheet music, long before the iPad. Can’t say I’d really want to use dead trees if I were still classically performing, there are too many great digital (ie, iPad or iPad-like) alternatives these days.

    But hey, it’s kind of nostalgic like vinyl in some ways.

    • Anonymous

      “Can’t say I’d really want to use dead trees”

      I can! Kill ’em, I say. Kill ’em all! 🙂

  3. Joshua Hall

    I have long believed that orchestras, string quartets, “classical musicians” in general should memorize and perform without sheet music. The printed page is a guide and until you have internalized it, you don’t truly own it and your performance will have that barrier. You don’t expect Shakespearean actors to be on script (book). Frank Zappa’s bands and bands like Dream Theater all perform from memory. You can and should play difficult music as a group from memory.


    • Anonymous

      “The printed page is a guide and until you have internalized it, you don’t truly own it”

      You can’t say that in general. I think there’s something very special going on between the paper and me. It’s a kind of communication. A direct way to connect with the composer.

  4. cjhoffmn

    I’ve always loved that piece… Dark and Light….

    When I came up as a pianist – I was always pushed to learn all my performances by heart and keep the sheet music only as the occasional guide…

  5. Bandit

    I guess anything helps to draw some attention to classical performances but don’t concert pianists traditionally play without sheet music?

    I seem to recall a concert where a woman played several Mozart piano pieces for nearly an hour without sheet music and I would be willing to bet that there were a lot more notes to memorize than a string instrument part