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) and is revered across the globe for its richness of timbre, infectious passion, and intuitive rapport. Performing at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and having won five Gramophone and numerous other awards for their recordings, the Quartet is firmly established as one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles.
In the 2018/2019 season the Quartet will perform three concerts at Rudolfinum Hall in Prague as artist-in-residence of the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Music Society. They will return to the Edinburgh International, Schubertiade, and East Neuk Festivals as well as to the Wigmore Hall, Paris Théâtre de la Ville, Bozar, Munich Herkulessal, De Doelen, Florence’s Teatro della Pergola, Philharmonie Essen, the Oslo Quartet Series, and tour the US and Canada.
The Pavel Haas Quartet records exclusively for Supraphon. Their autumn 2017 release of Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and String Quintet No. 3 with Boris Giltburg and their former member, Pavel Nikl, was awarded the Gramophone Chamber Music Award (the Quartet’s fifth Gramophone award). Diapason d’Or chose the recording as Album of the Month and commented: “It is difficult to overestimate their expressive intensity and opulent sound production… …Robust or lyrical, rounded or trenchant, tenderly bucolic or tempestuous, the musicians embrace and revel in it all.” The Quartet’s 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 and they 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 most coveted prize, 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 recording featuring Prokofiev’s String Quartets No. 1 and 2, and received yet another Gramophone Chamber Music Award in 2007 for their disc of Janáček’s Quartet No.2 “Intimate Letters” and Haas’s Quartet No.2 “From the Monkey Mountains.”
In spring 2005, the Quartet won the Paolo Borciani competition in Italy and in 2007, Cologne Philharmonie nominated them as ECHO Rising Stars, resulting in a tour to major concert halls worldwide. The Quartet took part in the BBC New Generation Artists scheme between 2007-09, and in 2010 was awarded the Special Ensemble Scholarship of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
The Quartet is based in Prague and studied with the late Milan Skampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet. They 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.