Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K. 575 ''The Violet'' (Prussian Quartet No. 1)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: String Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 26
Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12 in F Major Op. 96, B. 179 „American“
The presence of the Israeli Jerusalem Quartet at this concert guarantees that the performance level will be first rate. The ensemble has made a justified name for itself since its debut in 1996. The Jerusalem Quartet’s viola player is Ori Kam. He has already appeared at Dvořák Prague during a performance with his sister, the clarinettist Sharon, who was the curator of the Chamber Series in 2018. The Strad magazine reacted to this ensemble’s performance of one of Dvořák’s quartets as follows: “In unqualified hands, Dvořák’s music can sometimes seem to be lacking a natural directness in its musical testimony, but when performed by the Jerusalem Quartet, one wishes that its hearty inspiration could last forever.”
The combination of the names Mozart, Korngold and Dvořák constitutes a popular concert in the best sense of the word and at the highest level of composition. Mass appeal and depth need not be at odds, but on the contrary can merge perfectly into a single artistic work. The string quartets of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Antonín Dvořák are threefold testimony to this.
Mozart and Korngold were wunderkinder, who also managed to transform their talent into supreme works in their adulthood. Mozart’s String quartet no. 21 in D major arose in the period when the composer was at the height of his prowess. He wrote this relaxed work in a Haydnesque style for Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm II. Korngold’s String quartet no. 2 in E flat major combines both Viennese esprit and expressiveness. It was created shortly before the composer’s first work for a Hollywood film. Dvořák’s String quartet no. 12 in F major, known as the “American”, rounds out the journey to the USA. It is one of the famous quartet pieces ever.
„Passion, precision, warmth, a gold blend: these are the trademarks of this excellent Israeli string quartet.“ New York Times
Such was the New York Times' impression of the Jerusalem Quartet. Since the ensemble's founding in 1993 and subsequent 1996 debut, the four Israeli musicians have embarked on a journey of growth and maturation. This journey has resulted in a wide repertoire and stunning depth of expression, which carries on the string quartet tradition in a unique manner. The ensemble has found its core in a warm, full, human sound and an egalitarian balance between high and low voices. This approach allows the quartet to maintain a healthy relationship between individual expression and a transparent and respectful presentation of the composer's work. It is also the drive and motivation for the continuing refinement of its interpretations of the classical repertoire as well as exploration of new epochs.
The Jerusalem Quartet is a regular and beloved guest on the world's great concert stages. With regular bi-annual visits to North America, the quartet has performed in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, and Cleveland as well as in the Ravinia Festival. In Europe, the quartet enjoys an enthusiastic reception with regular appearances in all the prestige concert halls and at festivals such as Salzburg, Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Schubertiade Schwarzenberg or Rheingau.
The Jerusalem Quartet records exclusively for Harmonia Mundi. The quartet's recordings, particularly the albums featuring Haydn's string quartets and Schubert's "Death and the Maiden", have been honored with numerous awards such as the Diapason d'Or and the BBC Music Magazine Award for chamber music. In 2018, the quartet released two albums, an album of Dvorak's String Quintet Op.97 and Sextet Op.48, and a much-awaited recording of the celebrated quartets by Ravel and Debussy. In the spring of 2019, the quartet released a unique album exploring Jewish music in Central Europe between the wars and its far-reaching influence. Israeli Soprano Hila Baggio joined the quartet to perform a collection of Yiddish Cabaret songs from Warsaw in the 1920s. The quartet has commissioned composer Leonid Desyatnikov to arrange these songs, which are sung in Yiddish. Schulhoff's Five Pieces (1924), a collection of short and light cabaret-like pieces, and Korngold's Quartet No.2 (1937) are completing the program. In 2020, the Jerusalem Quartet released the second (and last) album featuring the whole Bartók cycle; both recordings were critically acclaimed.
Since 2019 the quartet has been touring together with Hila Baggio throughout Europe, presenting the Yiddish Cabaret; this will be continued in the season 2021/22. Also, they will perform the Enescu Octet with the Novus String Quartet (e.g. in Amsterdam and at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg) and play concerts at the String Quartet Biennale’s in Paris and Lisbon, playing, among others, Dvorák’s String Sextet with Gary Hoffman and Miguel da Silva at Philharmonie de Paris. Other highlights of the upcoming season include a Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall in spring 2022, US-tours in November 2021 and spring 2022, an Asia tour in June 2022, as well as (re-)invitations to the Tonhalle Zürich, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Warsaw Philharmonic and to the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele.
The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.