Czech Chamber Music Society • Bennewitz Quartet

One of the concerts carried over from last season is the Bennewitz Quartet, an outstanding Czech ensemble, and Belgian double bass player Wies de Boevé, today one of the most sought-after soloists and chamber players in Europe. In the second half, joining with the Bennewitz Quartet is the violist Pavel Nikl, a former member of the Haas Quartet.

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Antonín Dvořák
String Quintet No. 2 G major, Op. 77

Johannes Brahms
String Quintet G major, Op. 111


Bennewitz Quartet
Jakub Fišer violin I
Štěpán Ježek violin II
Jiří Pinkas viola
Štěpán Doležal cello

Wies de Boevé contrabass
Pavel Nikl viola

Photo illustrating the event Czech Chamber Music Society • Bennewitz Quartet

Rudolfinum — Dvořák Hall

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This evening’s programme will feature two important works from the vast chamber music repertoire of two close friends, Brahms and Dvořák. Dvořák’s string quintet with double bass dates from the period when his compositional style was solidifying. He was well aware of the work’s quality because he gave it the motto “For My Nation” and entered it in a competition held by the Artists’ Association. The work earned him the first prize. In 1890, a year after Dvořák had finished the revised version of his quintet, Brahms composed one of his late works. His String Quintet No. 2 in G major sounds surprisingly light, cheerful, even joyous.



Bennewitz Quartet  

The Bennewitz Quartet is one of the top international chamber ensembles, a status confirmed not only by their victories in two prestigious competitions – Osaka in 2005 and Prémio Paolo Borciani, Italy in 2008, but also by the acclaim of the critics. As early as 2006, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: "... the music was remarkable not just for its clarity of structure, but for the beautiful tonal palette and purity of intonation in its execution. Only very rarely does one experience such skillfully crafted and powerful harmonies... Great art." The ensemble has received various awards on the Czech music scene as well. In 2004 the quartet was awarded The Prize of the Czech Chamber Music Society and in 2019 the four musicians won the Classic Prague Award for the Best Chamber Music Performance of the year.

The quartet currently performs at major venues both in the Czech Republic and abroad (Wigmore Hall London, Musikverein Wien, Konzerthaus Berlin, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées Paris, The Frick Collection New York, Seoul Art Center, Rudolfinum and others), and is regularly invited to festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, Luzerne Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus, and the Prague Spring. The group has had the privilege of working with the outstanding artists: Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Alexander Melnikov, Vadim Gluzman, Isabel Charisius, Pietro de Maria, Reto Bieri, Danjulo Ishizaka and others.

The Bennewitz Quartet especially enjoys playing and performing on the Czech domestic music scene. Particular highlights have included their cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Jiří Bělohlávek for a performance of Bohuslav Martinů’s Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra. The group has made a recording of both quartets by Leoš Janáček for Czech Television in the unique space of Villa Tugendhat in Brno. The Czech Radio regularly records major concerts of the quartet.

The fruits of their long-term cooperation with the Coviello Classics label include a recording of Leoš Janáček’s two string quartets and Béla Bartók’s fourth. The critics’ response was very positive. The magazine Fono Forum was impressed by the "fiery temperament". The second recording in the series, released in spring 2010, contains both of Bedřich Smetana’s quartets. The website called it "simply phenomenal". Their next project was the recording of Antonín Dvořák’s complete Cypresses cycle, on the Hänssler Classic label, followed by the recording of quartets op.51 and op.106 on the SWR music label.

The members of the quartet put a lot of stress on the inspiring and sometimes challenging choice of their concert repertoire. In 2012 and 2015, the ensemble performed in a sole evening the complete of Bartók’s six string quartets in Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and in Swedish Upsala. In 2014, the four presented a premiere of The Songs of Immigrants by Slavomír Hořínka in Konzerthaus Berlin. In 2019 the quartet added a new CD in its discography featuring the music of the persecuted Jewish composers H. Krása, V. Ullmann, E. Schulhoff and P. Haas on the Supraphon label.

In the 2019/20 season the Bennewitz Quartet will return to Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Izumi Hall Ósaka, where the group received the gold medal for the winner of the Ósaka String Quartet Competition and Festa 2005. The quartet will take part in the complete performance of the string quartets by Ludwig van Beethoven in Orléans and will appear as solo players in Absolute Jest by John Adams in cooperation with the Prague Symphony Orchestra under Michael Sanderling.

Since 1998 the quartet bears the name of the violinist and director of a music conservatory in Prague, Antonín Bennewitz (1833-1926) who contributed greatly to the establishment of the Czech violin school. The most significant musicians who count among his disciples are Otakar Ševčík and František Ondříček and above all Karel Hoffman, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal who, under Bennewitz’s influence, formed the famous Bohemian Quartet.