Carlos Chavez String Quartet

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The Carlos Chavez String Quartet
The Carlos Chavez String Quartet 2006.
Background information
Origin Mexico City, Mexico
Genres Classical
Years active 1994–present
Labels Quindecim
Members Alain Durbecq (Cello)
Beata Kukawska (First Violin)
Bogdan Budziszewski (Second Violin)
Mikhail Gourfinke (Viola)
Past members Oleg Gouk (First Violin)
Vladimir Tocarev (Second violin)

The Carlos Chavez String Quartet is a Mexican based string quartet (previously known as "The Russian American String Quartet") founded by cellist Alain Durbecq in 1994. The quartet currently resides in Mexico City and performs a broad spectrum of mainstream classical music repertoire while maintaining a high profile in promoting Mexican music from the baroque era to contemporary times.

In 1998, the Carlos Chavez Quartet's director Alain Durbecq created a recording series entitled Unknown Mexican Quartets (Cuartetos Mexicanos Desconocidos) a research project endeavouring to recover music written for string quartet by Mexican composers whose works have had little, if any public exposure. The first recording in this series featured the work of a practically unknown young and talented woman composer from the late 19th century; Guadalupe Olmedo: her String Quartet in G Major written in 1875. This recording was made possible thanks to a prize awarded to the Quartet in 1997 by the Cultural Department of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) for special projects in chamber music. In 1999, the Quartet was awarded a grant from the National Council for the Arts (FONCA) to produce a second CD for this series featuring scarce known works of some of the most distinguished Mexican composers from the last half of the 20th century; Carlos Chávez, Candelario Huízar, and Salvador Contreras. Undoubtedly Carlos Chávez was the most influential figure during this key period of Mexican music history, not only because of his great compositional output but also for the guiding role he played in creating the some of the country's most important and enduring cultural institutions. These include the National Institute of Fine Arts, the Academy of the Arts and the National College of the Arts. Nonetheless, the influence of Candelario Huizar and Salvador Contreras, respectively, on the development of nationalism in Mexican music and its subsequent departure from it, were of paramount importance for the evolving generations of Mexico's new musical creators.

The National Council for the Arts (FONCA) awarded the Quartet another stipend in 2000 for work involving the research and recording of the youthful quartets written by the legendary Mexican violinist born in the state of Jalisco; Higinio Ruvalcaba.

The Carlos Chavez Quartet also collaborates with many contemporary Mexican composers such as the multi-faceted composer-musician; Jesús Echevarría. His works, the Canasta de Frutas Mexicanas (Basket of Mexican Fruits), and Cantes Huastecos are both song cycles of ten original songs for soprano, jarana and string quartet in the "huapango" style, a musical heritage belonging to Mexico's Huastecan culture from the north, northeast area of the Mexican Republic. Mr Exchevarria's instrumental compositions, his Suite Huasteca, Suite Tarasca and Suite Sotavento in their conception constitute a veritable homage to the baroque music of New Spain, a splendorous period which gave the 17th century world talents such as those of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Juan Ruiz Alarcon in the fields of literature, and those of Antonio de Salazar and Manuel de Sumaya in music.

In 2007, having once again received a grant from the National Council for the Arts (FONCA) the Quartet has commissioned a new work for guitar and string quartet from Mexican composer and Juilliard professor, Samuel Zyman which will be recorded along with the composer's First String Quartet.


  • Johannes Brahms; The String Quartets (1997)
  • Cuartetos Mexicanos Desconocidos Vol. 1 (1998) Guadalupe Olmedo, Gustavo A. Campa, Alfonso De Elias
  • Cuartetos Mexicanos Desconocidos Vol. 2 (1999) Salvador Contreras, Candelario Huizar, Carlos Chávez
  • Cuartetos Mexicanos Desconocidos Vol. 3 (2000) Higinio Ruvalcaba
  • Canasta de Frutas Mexicanas (2001) Jesús Echevarria
  • La Suite Huasteca/La Suite Tarasca (2002) Jesús Echevarria
  • Cantes Huastecos (2003) Jesús Echevarria


  • 1997 Mexico National Autonomous University Grant Award for special projects
  • 1998 Mexican Union of Critics of Theater and Music
  • 1998 Grant recipient from the Mexican National Council for the Arts
  • 2000 Grant recipient from the Mexican National Council for the Arts
  • 2007 Grant recipient from the Mexican National Council for the Arts