‘They seem always immersed in all they play, both in terms of their rapport but their instinctive understanding of the score too.’ Said The Gramophone of the new Pavel Haas Quartet album Antonín Dvořák – Quintets, Op. 81 & Op. 97 (SU 4195-2), that the ensemble recorded with excellent Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg and former member violist Pavel Nikl. We spoke to members of the Pavel Haas Quartet…
How did you arrive at the idea of recording Dvořák’s quintets Opp. 81 and 97?
Veronika Jarůšková: We decided to make a recording of the two works out of friendship. Boris Giltburg is a kindred soul to us, as a musician and a human. We first got together three years ago in the Netherlands, where we performed Dvořák’s Piano Quintet. And we could immediately feel that we understood one another completely.
Peter Jarůšek: We are not only connected as musicians; we also feel a personal affinity. I would say these aspects are like communicating vessels. We are close friends, and in the future we would like to perform together other quintets too.
Veronika Jarůšková: Pavel Nikl, our former colleague and founding member, had no doubts as to the project. I personally would call the album a friendly encounter with beautiful music.
How often have you given performances with musicians outside your ensemble?
Peter Jarůšek: We have naturally most frequently played in the basic configuration, as a string quartet. Now and then, we have been afforded the opportunity to perform with a guest, mainly in the second half of our concerts, and we then play as a quintet. Of late, we have often been joined by Boris Giltburg or Denis Kozhukin, another top-notch pianist. We have always really enjoyed our performances together, even though the two musicians are different.
Veronika Jarůšková: In February 2018, we are scheduled to perform sextets, and we will again be joined by the violist Pavel Nikl, and the cellist Tomáš Jamník. Sextets require superlative and seasoned chamber players, possessing an extraordinary sense for chamber music. The concerts are part of the “Czech It Out” project, within which we and several other Czech soloists and ensembles will be appearing at the new hall of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
When a renowned and well-coordinated quartet and a superb solo pianist get together, who determines the character of the music? How did it go during your recording sessions?
Veronika Jarůšková: I don’t think anyone was the boss. The music itself was paramount. So we simply strove to honour the music. Given that Boris Giltburg is a soloist of global calibre, he is a fantastic chamber player, possessing an incredible sense for musical colour.
Peter Jarůšek: What was of major significance was that we had played the two Dvořák quintets at numerous concerts. Hence, we had the feeling that the time was ripe. We did consider another option – quintets by Brahms and Dvořák – but we really wanted to record the two Dvořák pieces at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague.
Did you make the album with the usual recording team?
Peter Jarůšek: Yes, we did. We are happy to work with Jiří Gemrot and Karel Soukeník. They are outstanding professionals and we would like to record all our albums with them.
What repertoire will you be performing in the new concert season?
Marek Zwiebel: We have always thought over our repertoire approximately two years in advance. Subsequently, the agency would present our ideas to the promoters and organisers of concerts. Our repertoire during the current season includes Schubert’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, “Rosamunde”; Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7; and Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 14 within our first programme; and Stravinsky’s Concertino and Ravel’s String Quartet in F major within another concert programme.
And what about performances abroad? Which of them are you looking forward to the most?
Veronika Jarůšková: We are really excited about returning to Wigmore Hall, and are looking forward to the concert at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. We will also be making our debut in Bern, Switzerland. Furthermore, we are scheduled to tour North America, within which we will perform in Houston, Vancouver, Atlanta, Kansas City and other places. In 2018, we will give our very first concerts at two new halls – the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, and at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Afterwards, we will visit Geneva, Copenhagen and the Benelux region. We feel honoured to have been invited to debut at the Musikverein in Vienna. At the end of the season, we will be flying off to tour South Korea, China and Taiwan.
For further details, please visit: www.pavelhaasquartet.com