Named after the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), Janaček’s most brilliant pupil who later perished in Auschwitz, the Pavel Haas Quartet was formed in 2002. With its first Supraphon recording released five years later (of quartets by Janaček and Haas) the ensemble was immediately recognized as one of the finest quartets of the 21st century: the recording won the 2007 Gramophone Award for Chamber Music. Since then the Quartet has gone on to play all over Europe, Asia, and the US, and several more widely admired recordings have followed, including music by Smetana and Dvořák. Both of those Czech masters are featured in this concert: Smetana’s bold and troubled Second String Quartet and Dvořák’s final Quartet in A-flat Major, Op. 105 (the Quartet in G Major, Op. 106 was finished first). This genial and joyous work was started a few months before Dvořák left America in 1895 and was completed once he returned to his homeland. The concert opens with Bohuslav Martinů’s Concerto da Camera (Quartet No. 7).
BOHUSLAV MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
String Quartet No. 7 “Concerto da Camera,” H. 314
BEDŘICH SMETANA (1824-1884)
String Quartet No. 2 in D minor, JB 1:124
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
String Quartet No. 14 in A-flat Major, Op. 105
The Pavel Haas Quartet has been called “the world’s most exciting string quartet” (Gramophone). Since winning the Paolo Borciani Competition in Italy in spring 2005, they have established themselves as one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles, performing at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and recording six award-winning albums. Based in Prague, the quartet studied with Milan Skampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet, and still enjoy a close relationship with him.
In the 2017/2018 season the quartet gave their debuts at Vienna Musikverein, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Pierre Boulez Saal Berlin, and the Taipei National Concert Hall. They performed Martinů’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra with the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra under Tomáš Netopil in the orchestra’s season opening concerts. They made their return to Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, LG Arts Center Seoul, SWR Schwetzinger Musikfestspiele, and a tour to the US and Asia.
The Pavel Haas Quartet records exclusively for Supraphon, and their next recording of Dvořák’s String Quintet No. 3 (with violist and former member of the Pavel Haas Quartet Pavel Nikl) and Piano Quintet No. 2 with Boris Giltburg was released in fall 2017. Their previous recording of Smetana’s String Quartets No. 1 and 2 was awarded both a BBC Music Magazine Award and a Gramophone Chamber Music Award in 2015. This is the fourth time the quartet have received this prestigious award, and Gramophone commented: “Their sound is, as always, immediately recognizable—partly due to the sheer richness of timbre but also the sense of four personalities at play. … at times it’s hard to believe you are in the presence of only four players, so intense is the sound.” The Quartet won the same prize in 2014 for their recording of Schubert’s String Quartet “Death and the Maiden” and the String Quintet with cellist Danjulo Ishizaka. Their account of Dvořák’s String Quartets No. 12 “American” and No. 13 was awarded both the Gramophone Chamber Music award and the Recording of the Year in 2011. The Sunday Times commented: “Their account of the ‘American’ Quartet belongs alongside the greatest performances on disc.” The Quartet also won the Diapason d’Or de l’Année in 2010 for their album featuring Prokofiev’s String Quartets No. 1 and 2, and received yet another Gramophone Chamber Music Award in 2007 for their recording of Janáček’s Quartet No. 2 “Intimate Letters,” and Haas’s Quartet No. 2 “From the Monkey Mountains.”
In 2007, the Cologne Philharmonic nominated the Quartet as ECHO Rising Stars, resulting in a tour to major concert halls worldwide. The Quartet were BBC New Generation Artists from 2007-09, and in 2010 was awarded the Special Ensemble Scholarship of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
The Quartet take their name from the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899-1944) who was imprisoned at Theresienstadt in 1941 and tragically died at Auschwitz three years later. His legacy includes three wonderful string quartets.