Veronika Jaruskova violin
Marek Zwiebel violin
Pavel Nikl viola
Peter Jarusek violoncello
“The world’s most exciting string quartet? Well, they suit the tagline better than most. Their tone is large, quasi-orchestral. They take risks. Above all, they play with passion.”
Since winning the Paolo Borciani competition in Italy in Spring 2005, the Pavel Haas Quartet has established itself as one of the great chamber ensembles of today, performing at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and recording five award-winning CDs. Based in Prague, the Quartet studied with Milan Skampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet, and continues to enjoy a close relationship with him.
In the 2014/15 season the Quartet will perform a ‘Bohemia’ series in which they explore masterpieces of the Czech repertoire as well as lesser-known works and contemporary commissions at venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Palais des Beaux-Arts Brussels and Auditorio Nacional Madrid. Guest artists joining them for this project are Bernarda Fink, Colin Currie and Nicholas Angelich. The Quartet will be Artists-in-Residence at the Bodensee Festival 2015 and will tour to Australia and Korea. They will appear in concerts at the Zurich Tonhalle, Munich Herkulessaal and Luxembourg Philharmonie and at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Verbier and Zeist festivals. Last season’s highlights included residencies at Cologne Philharmonie, Birmingham Town Hall and the Prague Spring Festival.
The Pavel Haas Quartet records exclusively with Supraphon. Their most recent recording, released in September 2013 and featuring Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor ‘Death and the Maiden’, as well as the String Quintet with Danjulo Ishizaka was awarded Best Chamber Music Record at the 2014 Gramophone Awards. Gramophone commented: “They represent the best qualities of the Czech tradition – warmth, sonorousness, individuality, intensity; but what’s striking here is their fearless risk-taking, their fervency and the absolute confidence with which they propel you through these two masterpieces.” The Times called them “the perfect fusion of virtuosity and profundity”, The Strad recommended the performances as “supreme… vivid and compelling”, BBC Music Magazine as “essential listening”, and Fonoforum a “blazingly vivid account of enthralling veracity”.
The quartet’s previous recording, a disc of Dvořák’s String Quartets No.12 in F major ‘American’ and No.13 in G major, was awarded the prestigious Record of the Year at the Gramophone Awards 2011. The Sunday Times awarded the recording five stars, commenting: “Their account of the ‘American’ Quartet belongs alongside the greatest performances on disc.” The quartet furthermore won the Diapason d’Or de l’Année in 2010 for its disc featuring Prokofiev’s String Quartets Nos 1 & 2, and its recording of Janáček’s Quartet No.2 ‘Intimate Letters’ and Haas Quartet No.2 ‘From the Monkey Mountains’ received a 2007 Gramophone Award. On their subsequent recording of the remaining string quartet works by Haas and Janáček, Gramophone commented: “To describe a CD as musically important is to court a certain level of controversy but I’ll stick my neck out and claim extreme importance for this particular release.”
In 2007, the Cologne Philharmonic nominated the Quartet 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 2007-2009, and in 2010 it was awarded the Special Ensemble Scholarship of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.
The Quartet takes its 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.
The Pavel Haas Quartet is represented by Intermusica.
February 2015 / 529 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
String Quartet in D Minor No.14 ‘Death and the Maiden’
String Quintet in C Major
Danjulo Ishizaka, cello
Supraphon SU 4110-2
Gramophone Best Chamber Music Recording 2014
String Quartet in G Major, No.13 Op.106
String Quartet in F Major, No.12 Op. 96 ‘American’
Supraphon SU 4038-2
Gramophone Recording of the Year 2011
String Quartet in C Minor Op.18 No.4
String Quartet in F Major Op.135
String Quartet in F minor Op.95 'Quartetto Serioso'
BBC Music Magazine
String Quartet in B minor No.1, Op.50
Sonata for Two Violins in C major, Op.56
String Quartet in F major, No.2 Op.92
Supraphon SU 3957-2
Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2010
JANACEK | HAAS
Janáček String Quartet No.1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’
Haas String Quartet in C sharp minor, No.1 Op.3
Haas String Quartet No.3 Op.15
Supraphon SU 3922-2
JANACEK | HAAS
Janáček String Quartet No.2 ‘Intimate Letters’
Haas String Quartet No.2, Op.7 ’From the Monkey Mountains’
Colin Currie, percussion
Supraphon SU 3877-2
Gramophone Best Chamber Music Recording 2007
Kammermusiksaal Bonn / Brahms, Janáček & Beethoven
“The audience could only rub their eyes in disbelief at the end of the recital given by the Pavel Haas Quartet at the Kammermusiksaal. The last two hours had flown by, filled with the most excellent string quartet playing there could be. The Quartet, founded in 2002, has played its way onto the highest echelon of string quartets. And when you hear them in concert, you can see why. The four musicians play with an infectious and fearless passion and a technical brilliance which are breathtaking.”
General-Anzeiger Bonn, December 2012
Herkulessaal Munich / Haas, Janáček & Smetana
"On top of the world" The Pavel Haas Quartet wow in the Herkulessaal.
The Czech Pavel Haas Quartet stand out from the many fabulous string quartets that have emerged in the last few years all over the world. In the Pavel Haas Quartet two quartet cultures merge in the best possible way: On the one hand the lush sound and rhythm of the Bohemian quartet tradition, unforgettably epitomized by the Janácek and the Smetana Quartets, and on the other hand the modern school of transparency and structural awareness
Suddeutsche Zeitung, October 2012
Wigmore Hall / Janáček & Smetana
"Their account of Janacek’s "Intimate letters" was performed with a nice balance of coarse energy and wispy harmonics in the first movement, and a third movement of jagged magnificence. Smetana’s "From my life" quartet emerged with a finely sculpted opening movement, a light-hearted ‘alla polka’ second, a Largo exuding a nostalgic glow, and the famous finale – in which a long fiddle high note presages deafness - delivered with masterly understatement."
The Independent, July 2012
Cleveland, Fairmount Temple / Britten, Pavel Haas & Smetana
“[the Pavel Haas Quartet] was a marvel of poetic and dramatic intensity.”
Cleveland.com, April 2012
Dublin, Music in Great Irish Houses / Britten, Janáček & Schubert
“The Pavel Haas Quartet’s interpretation is phenomenal... Without doubt, here is quartet playing of the highest order.”
The Irish Independent, June 2011
Dvořák String Quartets No. 12 in F major ‘American’ and No.13 in G major (Supraphon)
BBC Music Magazine Disc of the Month December 2010:
“The Pavel Haas Quartet delivers superb performances of both works. They go straight to the heart of of Op.106’s Adagio with an excellent feeling not just for its formal dynamics, but also for the intensity of its introspective moments. Throughout, their undrestanding of the musical argument is exemplary: the first movement is very volatile, but at every stage the performers respond with both passion and a clear feeling for musical line; there is a marvellous spontaneity to the way in which the cello drives the opening part of the first movement prompting a real sense of dialogue from the other members of the quartet. In truth, there are so many details that delight the ear it would be almost impossible to list them all, but a prime example is the meltingly beautiful beginning of the recapitulation. Their performance of the scherzo (Molto vivace) blends Beethovian determination in the outer parts with a magically delicate reading of the trio. If anything, they are even better in the finale, negotiating its uproarious good cheer and the dreamy reminiscenses of earlier movements with consummate skill; in a movement that can seem discursive, they find both an emotional and rational thread to the argument.“
BBC Music Magazine, December 2010
“Their account of the American Quartet belongs alongside the greatest performances on disc. In this repertoire, they are simply matchless today.”
Sunday Times, five stars, November 2010
“If anything marks out a genuinely fine performance of Dvorak's string quartet music, it is an innate feeling for the music's intrinsic Czech quality. No worries there for the young Czech foursome that make up the Pavel Haas Quartet, a group well known here for its various Scottish festival visits, and for the combination of refinement and driven energy that is the hallmark of its performances. In both quartets – the radiant G major, Op106 and the popular "American", Op96 – the ensemble sound is rich and homogenous, yet when prominence of a single line is called for each of these players respond with tasteful explosions of individuality. Above all, these are interpretations laced with scintillating affection and that familiar bouncing Czech character.”
The Scotsman, November 2010
LSO St Luke’s Residency / Debussy & Ravel
“The Pavel Haas Quartet played both works with an inspired intensity, never letting the musical argument rest, and even in the chaste perfection of the slow movement of Debussy’s work there was an urgency to their reading. And there was also a suavity to these performances, the members of the Quartet understanding that less is more and that there was never any need for the collective voice to be raised except in special circumstances. They understood the importance of a perfect pianissimo and this made their performances have a special intimacy, as if it was given just for you, personally. When the collective voice was raised, temperatures soared and the finale of the Ravel was roof-raising in its power and strength. Perfection doesn’t come our way all that often, but when it does it’s not forgotten. We had that today.”
Seen and Heard International, November 2010
Glasgow Concert Halls Residency / Schubert & Ravel
“It is refreshing to attend a concert where the performers visibly listen to and enjoy playing every note. On Saturday, The Pavel Haas Quartet did exactly that. There is no doubt these young Czech musicians, described this year as “the world’s most exciting string quartet”, played with an unrivalled intensity and passion…. The Pavel Haas Quartet showed they are a force to be reckoned with. They return next March – Glasgow, be ready.”
Herald Scotland, 8 November 2010
Mozarteum Salzburg / Britten, Shostakovich & Dvořák
“The young Czech Pavel Haas Quartet already plays in the first league of string quartets, which is hardly surprising when so much joy at making music meets so much precision, brilliance and creative power.”
“What made the interpretation truly extraordinary was the powerful and exact nuancing while at the same time avoiding any sentimentality.There is no way you could play Dvorak in a better or more harmonious manner.”
Drehpunkt Kultur, April 2010
Prokofiev String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 / Sonata for two violins (Supraphon) / Awarded Diapson d'Or de l'Anée
“…in a class of their own”
The Strad, April 2010
“I’m not quite sure how they do it. The Quartet’s first release won a Gramophone Award [and] I wouldn’t be surprised if this is in the running come October… [It] is thrilling now to imagine where this quartet can go”
Gramophone, March 2010
“Youth conquers all… an instant classic”
Classic FM Magazine, March 2010
“This is now the definitive recording of the Prokofiev quartets, outranking the Emerson’s milestone disc on DG… to be discovered without hesitation.”
Diapason d'Or, March 2010
"a performance of tremendous musical energy: robust, well characterized, exact.”
The Independent, January 2010
“beautifully performed by this young, but already distinguished, Prague-based group — fierce intensity and clarity go hand in hand, as throughout the disc.”
The Sunday Times, January 2010
“The world’s most exciting string quartet?... Well, they suit the tagline better than most…Their tone is large, quasi-orchestral. They take risks; often they play fast. Above all, they play with passion.”
The Times, January 2010
“It has been a long time that any quartet has been so untamed, rugged and at the same time emotionally intense in their tone."
Fono Forum, April 2010
Wigmore Hall / Dvořák, Smetana & Pavel Haas
“In emotional terms, they seamlessly drifted between fervour and introspection – glorious quartet playing”
The Strad, June 2009
“That sense of total conviction owed much to this marvellous quartet. The leader Veronika Jaruskova plays with fiery energy and an intonation that never wavers; the cellist Peter Jarusek produces an immense tone with an appearance of almost nonchalant ease. And all four play with a wonderful sense of unanimity.”
The Telegraph, March 2009
Edinburgh International Festival / Pavel Haas & Janáček
“Named after the Czech composer who died at Auschwitz, [the Pavel Haas Quartet] are passionate and virtuosic, the vivacity of youth matched by musical maturity. Haas never heard his Third String Quartet performed, but he has rarely had more focused champions, his jazzy inflections and complexities attacked with brightness and sensitivity. To end, Janácek's brilliant labour of love, String Quartet No 2 (Intimate Letters), was etched with restless, turbulent passion.”
The Times, August 2008
April U.S. Tour / Janáček, Dvořák, Beethoven & Smetana
"Take note: this is one of the most polished and musically exciting young string quartets in the world today."
Washington Post, April 2008
"...with full-blooded passion and finely nuanced playing, the young musicians conveyed the yearning of the opening Adagio [in Janacek's String Quartet No 1], the urgency of its bittersweet motif and the ironic joviality of the second-movement polka."
New York Times, April 2008
Janáček String Quartet No.1 / Pavel Haas String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3 (Supraphon)
"To describe a CD as musically important is to court a certain level of controversy...but I'll stick my neck out and claim extreme importance for this particular release...This is a superb release that deserves not merely to bask in the reflected glory of its predecessor, but to share in it. The sound is first-rate."
Rob Cowan, Editor's Choice, Gramophone, April 2008
"It's an outstanding disc from this young Czech ensemble, up there with the finest modern recordings and it's the CD Review disc of the week."
BBC Radio 3 CD Review, November 2007
Recital at the Wigmore Hall, London / Beethoven & Janáček
"What impressed most was that the quartet's instinctive ensemble was capable of embracing the subtlest shades of attack and release with complete unanimity."
The Strad, October 2007
Recital in Weilburg / Mozart, Dvořák & Beethoven
"It was an exquisite occasion for chamber music, which lived up to the highest expectations: the Pavel Haas Quartet from Prague, one of the most famous ensembles of the younger generation"
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20 June 2007
Pavel Haas & Janáček String Quartets (Supraphon)
"The young and dynamic Pavel Haas Quartet triumphantly announce their arrival on the recording stage with this first-rate example of the music of their namesake. … Both work benefit from "streamlined but full-blooded playing", ensuring eager anticipation for a follow-up album."
Gramophone Chamber Music Award 2007
"[In Janacek's String Quartet no.2] the players revelled in pointing up the work's searing trills, steely harmonics, vibrant folk influences and craggy angularity... An inspiring and energising experience."
The Stage, October 2007
'What is so impressive about this debut is the group's bold, original approach to this famous repertoire. They are technically beyond reproach and convey, with almost graphic immediacy, Janacek's searing passion. They present us with the finest, most vivid account of Haas's second quartet on disc. A very special group."
BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year Award 2007
"Czech chamber music making of the highest order, both in terms of the work and the performance… not just technically outstanding but also as emotionally committed as Janacek was to Kamila Stosslova… exhilarating… a match for just about any recording in the Czech tradition."
BBC Radio 3 CD of the Week, December 2006
"...a brilliant and instructive recording of Janacek's oft-recorded Second Quartet. The prizewinning Pavel Haas Quartet comprises four relative youngsters, but the precise calibre of their ensemble, their minute attentiveness to one another and the subtle way each member is given space by the others at key solo moments both here and in Haas's Second Quartet make this not just an intelligent, fresh reading, but also a beautifully crisp, clear one."
The Strad, October 2006
"Haas's quartet gets a brilliant performance that combines lyricism with urbane wit. The Janacek is harrowing in its immediacy…"
The Guardian, October 2006
"...a superlative ensemble, as one would expect from a group coached by the Smetana Quartet's Milan Škampa."
The Telegraph, October 2006
"To its composer, Janácek's second string quartet, Intimate Letters, was a work seemingly 'carved out of living flesh'. That's just how it sounds in this brilliant account from a gifted Czech group. Bold in attack, tempo and texture, they never slip and always give us passion… A CD sequel is essential."
The Times, October 2006
East Neuk Festival, Scotland / Haas, Smetana & Mozart
"…a unique mix of impeccable technique and warm, interactive ensemble playing. Their performances of Haas, Smetana and Mozart's sinewy Dissonance quartet were sensational."
The Scotsman, July 2006
St Magnus Festival, Orkney, Scotland / Maxwell Davies, Beethoven & Janáček
"The Pavel Haas Quartet from the Czech Republic were sensational… their account of Beethoven's 3rd Rasumovsky quartet, from the miniscule pianissimo at the start to the thrilling, almost orgiastic Russian dance at the end, was breathtaking."
The Independent, June 2005
"The Pavel Haas gave a magnificent performance of Beethoven's third Razumovsky, with the finale as exciting and explosive as I have heard it. They combine virtuosity with a full, glowing sound, and their style is discreetly aristocratic."
The Sunday Telegraph , June 2005