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bennewitz

quartet

Bennewitz Quartet Availability

October 10 – 24, 2019

 November 5 – 17, 2020

What the critics say:

“…the Bennewitz Quartet carries the listener into another world.” 

— Muenchener Merkur

“…enjoyment and vitality of a young ensemble at the height of its powers.”

— Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“...drama, expression, and utmost sensitivity.” 

— The Strad

“…white-hot performances of works by Leoš Janáček, Bedřich Smetana, and Antonín Dvořák, playing with the pure intensity that only native Czechs could have achieved.”

— Clevelandclassical

“The recording of the composer’s [Dvorak] final quartet is magnificent, with its luscious sound and very finely nuanced dynamics, covered with a melancholy veil in the colors of an Indian summer.”

— Harmonie Online, ‘Editor’s Choice’

The Bennewitz Quartet is downright wonderful, with a perfect balance of warmth and objective clarity…”

Gramophone

Jakub Fišer, violin | Štěpán Ježek, violin 

Jiří Pinkas, viola  Štěpán Doleža, violoncello

Winner Klassik Prague Award 2019

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“The Bennewitz will soon have established itself at the very top of the international quartet world,” wrote the Stuttgarter Zeitung, while the Frankfurter Allgemeine raved that “..the music was remarkable not just for the clarity of structure, but for the beautiful tone palette and purity of intonation in its execution. Only very rarely does one experience such skillfully crafted and powerful harmonies…Great art!” 

Founded by four young musicians in 1998 at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, it was named after the famous Czech violinist and teacher Antonin Bennewitz (1833-1926), and established its reputation by winning two leading chamber music competitions—the Osaka (2005) and the Premio Paolo Borciani (2008).

 Since then the quartet has performed at various international music festivals (Rheingau and Heidelberger Frühling, The Lucerne, Lockenhaus, Orlando and Prague Spring Festivals) and in prominent concert halls (Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Theatre des Champs- Elysees, Herkulessaal Munich and Rudolfium Prague, Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Musikverein, Seoul Arts Center, the Frick Collection, NYC, and the National Gallery of Art, DC). 

It has become known for its “drama, expression, and utmost sensitivity” (Strad) as well as its richly differentiated sound culture and interesting programming. Its broad repertoire spans from Bach fugues to the classical canon, and to the contemporary, and includes many lesser-known works. The quartet has been championing Czech music, including works by unjustly neglected composers such as Reicha, Haas, Ullmann, Schulhoff and others, and has performed the Martinu Concerto for String Orchestra with the Czech Philharmonic under Jiri Belohlavek. The ensemble also gave the Czech premiere of John Adams’ Absolute Jest with the Prague Radio Symphony. 

 As of the fall of 2017, the quartet has been the ensemble-in-residence for the Czech Philharmonic, performing concerts in Prague’s main hall, the Dvorak Hall. It has played the Weinberg piano quintet with Alexander Melnikov for the Socieda Filarmonica de Bilbao, performed with Lukas Vondracek, (recent Queen Elisabeth winner) at the new Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, and took part in the complete Haydn cycle at Wigmore Hall.


The quartet works with outstanding artists such Alexander Melnikov, Vadim Gluzman, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Isabelle Charisius, Pietro de Maria, Reto Bieri, Danjulo Ishizaka and others.

Of its CDs with works by Bartok and Janacek, Fonoforum testified to their “fiery temperament” and found that they had a “sovereign balanced sound culture.” Klassik.com described their recording of the string quartets of Smetana as “simply phenomenal.” Their recording of Dvorak’s Cypresses with baritone Martin Bruns was followed by the release of Dvorak quartets Nos. 10 and 13 in the fall of 2015. In 2018 Cech TV recorded a Janacek CD in Villa Tugendhat in Brno (designed by Mies van der Rohe); in 2019 the quartet was awarded the 2019 Classic Prague Award for the Best Chamber Music Recording made of their live performances at the Rudolfinum of Schumann, Martinu and Schubert. The recently-released recording of the music of Ullmann, Schulhoff, Krasa, and Haas was named Editor’s Choice by Presto Classical and was selected as Record of the Week by Europadisc

Besides CDs, the Bennewitz Quartet has made several recordings for Czech radio and television, as well as for a number of radio and television companies abroad (SWR, RD and NWR- Germany, Radio 4-Netherlands, ORF-Austria, Radio Clasica-Spain, STV Radio, Yomiuiri TV-Japan).

While studying with Rainer Schmidt of the Hagen Quartet, and with Walter Levin of the former La Salle Quartet at the Musikakademie Basel (where the quartet was quartet-in-residence), it started gathering prizes, including Laureate of the Chamber Music Society of the Czech Philharmonic, the award of the Spanish Queen for best chamber music ensemble of 2002/2003, as well as two special prizes at the ARD Music Competition in 2004. The group has also been recently nominated for the Boreletti-Buitoni Trust award which has been given to individuals and ensembles for musical excellence since 2003.

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More what the critics say:


“With its surprising interpretative variations, the Bennewitz Quartet carries the listener into another world.” 

— Muenchener Merkur

“ It beggars belief that this music was composed under such harrowing circumstances, and the Bennewitz do it proud, in a performance of supreme technical artistry that never gets in the way of the music’s abundant character.” 

— Europadisc (Ullmann, Krasa, Schulhoff)

“Unbelievably good!” 

— Saarbrueckener Zeitung

“The four musicians communicated perfectly with each other, played with expression and nuance, and with great colors and harmony…. At the end the audience was in agreement: The concert with the Bennewitz Quartet was a true joy.” 

— Schwaebische Tuttlingen

“…white-hot performances of works by Leoš Janáček, Bedřich Smetana, and Antonín Dvořák, playing with the pure intensity that only native Czechs could have achieved.”

— Clevelandclassical 

“Intensity is the first word that comes to mind when watching these four brilliant young players. Followed by words like sharp, precise, accurate, and superb.”

— Palm Beach Arts Paper, 

“The Bennewitz String Quartet served up a phenomenal musical treat.”

— Palm Beach Daily News

“The recording of the composer’s final quartet is magnificent, with its luscious sound and very finely nuanced dynamics, covered with a melancholy veil in the colors of an Indian summer.”

— Harmonie Onlinem Choice of the Harmonie magazine and ‘Editor’s Choice’

“For almost ten years the Bennewitz Quartet has been one of the leading international chamber ensembles. The four musicians blindly understand each other, are masters of the high art of listening to each other and of coming together as a group. The best example of this is their recording of Dvorak’s quartets Nos. 10 and 13.”

— Pizzicato

“…enjoyment and vitality of a young ensemble at the height of its powers.”

— Sueddeutsche Zeitung

It was a beautifully nuanced performance with well-crafted phrasings and delicately defined lyricism.” 

— (Reichel Reccommends (Salt Lake City) 


“The Bennewitz Quartet is downright wonderful, with a perfect balance of warmth and objective clarity, using expressive rubatos so effectively that the group seems to love the music 100 per cent.“ 

— Gramophone 

“Well, there are string quartets, and there are string quartets, but the Bennewitz Quartet remains in a class of its own.” 

— Penninsula Review (Carmel, CA), March 26, 2011)

“The Bennewitz will soon have established itself at the very top of the international quartet world...” 

— Stuttgarter Zeitung, 

“...drama, expression and utmost sensitivity.” 

— The Strad

The young Bennewitz Quartet from Prague presented itself on Tuesday as an ensemble that one could spontaneously count as one of the best one has ever heard live or on recording. The Bennewitz may not yet be legendary, but that may only be a matter of time, as they are already on their way...” 

— Adolf Gottwald, Süddeutsche Zeitung 

“It was simply splendid, how (the Bennewitz Quartet) approached the Second String Quartet, a late work of Smetana which is, unfortunately, performed only rarely. It was full of contrasts and emotions, and yet with a certain inner turmoil, until the final stretta began to radiate. Sustained applause.” 

— David Koch, Luzerner Zeitung, z

“The Bennewitz Quartet was able to build up and keep the arc of suspense. Each member in his own body and sound language told the musical story of the composer. In continuous joined listening, they passed motifs to each other, captured them in solos, and came together tempestuously in a musical embrace.“

— Hanna Meid, Gmünder Tagespost, 

“The performance of the Bennewitz Quartet proved that even the ear of an experienced listener may again experience wonder. The standards of the four young Czechs have grown once again. The congenial fresh passion did not take away any of the precision with which they played the early Mozart piece (KV 80) allowing the listener to enjoy every detail of every tone. It was a genial dialogue centered around the different personalities of the two violinists. While the first violinist played from his intellect, Štěpán Ježek took us away with his emotional vivacity. It was the perfect work of the ensemble that the audience rewarded by its ardent applause.” 

— Saarbrückener Zeitung

“Words could hardly do justice to the magic the quartet created.” 

— Albert G. Storace, The Times of Malta