A sound relationship

The Jerusalem Quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

By MAXIM REIDER
December 15, 2016 19:14
3 minute read.
The Jerusalem Quartet

The Jerusalem Quartet. (photo credit: PR)

The internationally acclaimed Jerusalem String Quartet returns to Israel for a few concerts on home turf. The quartet will perform two concerts in the framework of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art series on December 16 at 1 p.m. and December 17 at 8:30 p.m. The musicians in the quartet are violinists Alexander Pavlovsky and Sergey Bressler; violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov.

Amihai Grosz, the founding member of the quartet, now the first violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, will join his friends in the first concert.

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In a phone interview from Zurich, Lisbon-based Russian-born Israeli cellist Kyril Zlotnikov says, “We are currently touring Europe as a quartet. In addition, together with cellist Gary Hoffman and violist Veronica Hagen from the Hagen Quartet, we perform a mini series of Dvorak’s pieces – his quintet and sextet, which is rarely performed, which is a pity because it is very beautiful. Last night we performed in Florence, tonight in Zurich, and tomorrow in Amsterdam, as well as in a small Dutch city. Next month we will record these pieces with the same musicians.”

Zlotnikov goes on to say that the quartet is as busy as ever.

“We tour, we perform, we record. We recently released two albums – a double one of early Beethoven quartets and another of three quartets by Bartok. For 15 years now we’ve been recording at Teldex studio in Berlin; the discs are released on the Harmonia Mundi label. Although many recording companies are going through difficult financial problems, we have had a long, steady relationship with Teldex. In January we will record Bartok; in April, Ravel and Debussy, and so forth.”

The quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary by performing special concert programs.

“We have actually been together for more than 20 years,” says Zlotnikov. “We decided to celebrate this union by a series of concerts. We started last year and will continue in 2017. Programwise, we decided to put together our signature repertoire – such as pieces by Shostakovich, Beethoven, Dvorak – with pieces that are new for us, such as Bartok. At the same time, we are starting preparations for Beethoven’s 250 celebrations, which will take place in 2020.”



How has the Jerusalem Quartet managed to stay together for so long? “Twenty years is a lot, and the years have passed so fast,” says Zlotnikov. “It is not simple, far from it. It is your second family, you are married twice. And this is not like an orchestra, where there are many people – this one is your friend and you enjoy chatting with him, while that guy you dislike so you just don’t talk to him. No, here you are together all the time; you discuss your work, the rendition of pieces, and sometimes you have to push your ego as deep as possible. And being part of a quartet that is so much in demand is very tiring. Sometimes you have to get up early in the morning because you have two flights and two concerts in different places in one day. Also the logistics are totally upon you. This is not like a huge machine called a symphony orchestra, where you are taken care of. Here everything is on you – including trains, flights and buses. Sometimes you ask yourself, “What kind of life am I living?’” Five years ago violist Amichai Grosz left the quartet and was replaced by Ori Kam.

“It’s impossible to blame him,” says Zlotnikov. “He was with us for 16 years, and that is a lot.

And he received such a tempting proposition – to be the first viola of the Berlin Philharmonic. It’s quite natural that he wanted to try something new and exciting.”

On the program for the December 16 concert at 1 p.m. is Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106; and String Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 97. The concert is preceded by a lecture by Yonatan Ullman, starting at 12:15 p.m.

On the program for December 17 at 8:30 p.m. is Haydn’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 64 No. 5, “The Lark”; Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 50; and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 7 in D major Op. 59 No. 1, “Razumovski.” The concert is preceded by a lecture by Anat Sharon, starting at 7:45 p.m.

The concerts take place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. For reservations, call (03) 607-7070


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