Pavel Haas Quartet

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The Pavel Haas Quartet's first album.
(Released in 2006 on Supraphon SU 3877-2 131)

The Pavel Haas Quartet is a Czech string quartet which was founded in 2002.[1] Their first album with the second quartets of Haas and Janáček won the 2007 Gramophone Award for Chamber music.[2] The Gramophone reviewer David Fanning described their playing as "streamlined but full-blooded".[3] Their recording of the Dvořák String Quartets Op. 106 & 96 won the Gramophone Awards' most coveted "Recording of the Year" prize in 2011.[4]

Formation[edit]

The first violinist Veronika Jarůšková was inspired to form the quartet after she attended concerts by the Škampa Quartet in which her husband Peter Jarůšek was the cellist. She recruited other players in Prague, some of whom had studied with the same teachers. Initially the group consisted of, besides Jarůšková, Kateřina Gemrotová (second violin), Pavel Nikl (violist), and Lukáš Polák (cellist). After its formation Polák decided to leave because of incompatibility, so the two quartets ended up exchanging cellists, with Jarůškova's husband joining the Haas Quartet and Polák joining the Škampa Quartet. Later the second violinist (Gemrotová) was replaced by Marie Fuxová, who in September 2008 was replaced by Eva Karová, the youngest member in the group at 25 years of age (in November 2009); the oldest was only 33.[5] In July 2012, Karová was herself replaced by Marek Zwiebel as second violinist.

The quartet is named after the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), who was deported from Czechoslovakia in 1941, initially imprisoned at the work camp Terezin, and finally died at Auschwitz. Although aware of the significance of the circumstances of Haas's final years, the group did not intend to make a statement about the Holocaust, but rather selected the name primarily because of his importance to Czech music and in particular because of his three string quartets, all of which they have now recorded. Jarůšková has said: "We know personally the daughter of Pavel Haas. She doesn't like to speak about the time before the war. She showed us some papers and a book he wrote about her when she was born." Jarůšek added: "She also showed us the reviews. Every review of his Second Quartet was bad."[5]

Mentors[edit]

The Haas Quartet has studied and worked with members of the Quartetto Italiano, Quatuor Mosaïques, Borodin Quartet, and the Amadeus Quartet. Other important mentors include Walter Levin (founder of the LaSalle Quartet) and particularly the Smetana Quartet's viola player, Milan Škampa, who worked with the group over a period of many years.[6] Jarůšková has said, "I once asked Milan Škampa to teach me how to build a quartet, how to live the life of a quartet. He said ‘It’s the most beautiful prison in the music world.'"[7]

Awards and critical reception[edit]

The group won the 2004 "Vittorio E. Rimbotti" award in Florence.[8] Their recording contract with Supraphon came from winning the Prague Spring Competition in May 2005, and has resulted in four CDs (see Recordings). The group got another early boost by winning First Place at the Premio Paolo Borciani competition in Italy in June 2005.[5] The group also received a Special Ensemble Scholarship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in 2010.[9]

Besides their first CD, which won the 2007 Gramophone Award as the best chamber music recording of the year,[2] their second CD with the first Janáček quartet and the first and third quartets of Haas was selected by the Gramophone as an "Editor's Choice". Rob Cowan, the reviewer, wrote: "To describe a CD as musically important is to court a certain level of controversy..., but I'll stick my neck out and claim extreme importance for this release. ... This is a superb release that deserves not merely to bask in the reflected glory of its predecessor, but to share in it."[10] Their third Supraphon disc with the two Prokofiev quartets (No. 1 in B minor, Op. 50, and No. 2 in F major, Op. 92) and his Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56, was also selected by Gramophone as an "Editor's Choice" and was described by the reviewer David Gutman as "pitch perfect".[11]

In April 2011, the quartet's recorded performance of Dvořák's last string quartet (No. 13 in G major, Op. 106) was proposed by reviewer Jan Smaczny for BBC Radio 3's "CD Review: Building a Library" as his personal top recommendation among rival performances.[12]

Tours[edit]

During 2006–2007 the group performed in France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain, including at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, Alte Oper Frankfurt and Philharmonie Essen (de).

In 2007–2008 more concert tours came their way after they were nominated by the Cologne Philharmonie as one of the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) "Rising Stars". Tour venues included the Vienna Konzerthaus, Salzburg Mozarteum, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Cité de la Musique, Paris, Cologne Philharmonie, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Stockholm Konserthuset, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York.[6][13]

From September 2007 to September 2009 the quartet participated in the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. This program annually selects six to seven young artists and ensembles from around the world to make BBC recordings for broadcast and also sponsors a series of concerts in the United Kingdom. This relationship resulted in the group's recording of three Beethoven string quartets (Op. 18 No.4, Op. 95, and Op. 135).[6]

In the summer of 2009 the group travelled to Japan performing in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Musashino and recording the two Janáček quartets and the third Haas quartet for NHK television.[14] From Japan they continued on to Australia with concerts in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle, Melbourne, and Hobart which featured the world premiere performances of Australian composer Paul Stanhope's String Quartet No. 2 (2009).[7][15]

In the fall they performed in the United Kingdom,[16] Switzerland, and Germany. A concert in Bonn on 20 September included the Haydn String Quartet in D minor, Op. 76, No. 2 ("Fifths") and the Dvořák String Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 97 (with violist Masumi Per Rostad of the Pacifica Quartet).[17] The performance was recorded by Deutsche Welle and is available for download.[18]

The European tour was followed by another tour to the United States with performances in Philadelphia,[5] Middlebury, Vermont,[19] Houston, Texas,[20] and Worcester, Massachusetts.[21] The fall tour included performances of Beethoven's String Quartet in F major, Op. 59, No. 1, Britten's Three Divertimenti, Dvořák's String Quartet Op. 106 in G major, Haas's String Quartet No. 2, Haydn's Op. 76 No. 2, Ravel's String Quartet in F major, Schubert's Allegro in C minor, D. 703 (Quartettsatz), and Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 10.

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Class of 2007" BBC Music Magazine, 15:7 (March 2007), p. 29.
  2. ^ a b Gramophone, 85:1024 (Awards 2007), p. 77. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  3. ^ Fanning, David. "Whackiness, grotesque humour and a drum-kit: welcome to the world of Haas", Gramophone, 84:1012 (November 2006), p. 87. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b Gramophone 89:1076 (Awards 2011), pp. 53, 66. See also online; retrieved 29 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d Stearns, David Patrick. "A Quartet for Our Time" Gramophone, 87:1054 (February 2010), pp. 38–41.
  6. ^ a b c "Intermusica / Artists / Pavel Haas Quartet / Biography" (9 September 2007) at the Wayback Machine (archived September 9, 2007)
  7. ^ a b Musica Viva | Pavel Haas Quartet Accessed 5 February 2010.
  8. ^ "What's New", (Supraphon newsletter), III/2006 June–August (Download). Accessed 3 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Pavel Haas Quartet – Special Ensemble Scholarship 2010". Borletti-Buitoni Trust. 
  10. ^ Cowan, Rob (2008). "How to follow an Award-winner? Why, produce a disc that is just as great", Gramophone, 85:1030 (April 2008), p. 77. Accessed 2 June 2010.
  11. ^ Gutman, David (2010). "Pitch-perfect Prokofiev from the Pavel Haas Quartet", Gramophone, 87:1055 (March 2010), p. 72. Accessed 3 June 2010.
  12. ^ a b "CD Review: Building a Library – Dvorak: String Quartet in G, Op 106". BBC Radio 3. Accessed 1 May 2011.
  13. ^ Ross, Vivian. "Music in Review: Pavel Haas Quartet, Weill Recital Hall", The New York Times, 28 April 2008. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  14. ^ Intermusica news release, 18 July 2009. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  15. ^ Musica Viva Tasmania – A World of Music – Concert 3, Pavel Haas Quartet (11 August 2009). Accessed 5 February 2010.
  16. ^ The Old Market announcement, 18 October 2009. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  17. ^ a b "String quartet project III: celestial moments in the afternoon" at Deutsche Welle website. Accessed 26 February 2010.
  18. ^ a b Concert of 20 September 2009 available as mp3 for download. Accessed 26 February 2010.
  19. ^ Middlebury Performing Arts Series announcement, 6 November 2009. Accessed 3 February 2009.
  20. ^ Houston Friends of Music announcement, 12 November 2009. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  21. ^ Music Worcester announcement 18 November 2009. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  22. ^ Catalog Entry, Supraphon
  23. ^ Catalog Entry, Supraphon
  24. ^ Cover CD Inlay (May 2009), BBC Music Magazine
  25. ^ Discogs product page. Accessed 3 February 2010.
  26. ^ Catalog Entry, Supraphon. Accessed 3 Fegruary 2010.
  27. ^ Catalog Entry, Supraphon. Accessed 4 May 2011.

External links[edit]