|St. Petersburg Quartet
Web site: http://www.stpetersburgquartet.com
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The St. Petersburg String Quartet is one of the world’s most highly esteemed chamber ensembles. Their rise to fame has included a Grammy nomination, “Best Record” honors in both Stereo Review and Gramophone, an opening night performance at Mostly Mozart in Lincoln Center, a five-year residency at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and hundreds of concerts in many of North America, Europe and Asia’s most prestigious series and festivals.
In May, 2011, the St. Petersburg String Quartet performed in Carnegie Hall. Their current season includes a six-concert series at New York City's popular BargeMusic Series, where they performed the complete Shostakovich cycle; a collaboration with Naumberg Piano Competition winner Anton Nel; three concerts at the Los Angeles Music Guild; tours of England and France; and concerts in Connecticut, Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Idaho, and Mexico.
Highlights of recent seasons in North America include the opening concert of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center quartet series, for which The New York Times praised their “sumptuous account of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No.1”; a collaboration with Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Olga Kern; a tour with violist Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet at the Library of Congress; three concerts in New York’s Metropolitan Museum with the late Ruth Laredo; and a 17-concert tour of Canada, during which the Toronto Globe and Mail wrote: “Bliss, for this listener, doesn't get much more unequivocal than the St. Petersburg Quartet’s performance.”
The SPSQ's innumerable engagements have included an opening night performance at the Mostly Mozart festival in Lincoln Center, New York; five concerts within five years at London's Wigmore Hall; numerous British festivals, including Aldeburgh; Canadian debuts in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa; Lincoln Center’s Great Performances series; New York’s Frick Collection and 92nd Street Y series; the Caramoor, Piccolo Spoleto, and Music Mountain festivals; and the Eastman School of Music Chamber Music Series. The SPSQ toured Germany (including the prestigious Frankfurt Alte Oper), Holland (including the Concertgebouw), Ireland, and major festivals in Mexico, Japan, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Israel.
At the SPSQ’s recent performance for BBC Radio 3 in London, Tchaikovsky Piano Competition winner Peter Donohoe called their collaboration “Some of the most sublime moments of chamber-music making I have ever experienced.”
Founded in 1985 as the Leningrad String Quartet, the SPSQ blazed a trail through chamber music circles, winning a number of prestigious international competitions, including First Prize at the All-Soviet Union String Quartet Competition; Silver Medal and a Special Prize at the Tokyo International Chamber Music Competition; First Prize and both Special Prizes at the Vittorio Gui International Competition for Chamber Ensembles in Florence, Italy; and First Prize and the “Grand Prix Musica Viva” at the Melbourne, Australia International Chamber Music Competition. When the city of Leningrad restored its historic name, the quartet changed its name to the St. Petersburg String Quartet.
In 2009 the St. Petersburg String Quartet launched the St. Petersburg International Music Academy, an intensive summer program for students, which they bring to various campuses and festivals in the USA and Mexico. In 2010, the St. Petersburg String Quartet was appointed the inaugural Quartet in Residence at Wichita State University.
Hyperion Records has released the Quartet’s much-anticipated cycle of Shostakovich quartets. Their disc of Shostakovich Quartets Nos. 5, 7, and 9 won the Chamber Music America/WQXR Radio Prize for Best Chamber CD of 2001. Other releases include: on the Delos label, Quartets Nos. 1 and 2 by Prokofiev; the premiere recording of Quartet No. 1 by Georgian composer Zurab Nadarejshvili; and a Glazunov CD featuring Quartet No. 5 and the Five Novelettes.
The SPSQ recently released the two Borodin Quartets on the Dorian label. The latest release in the SPSQ’s extensive discography includes CDs of Ravel, Debussy, Dvorak, and Mendelssohn quartets on the Marquis Music label. A new recording of the complete Tchaikovsky Quartets was finished in 2010.
First violinist Alla Aranovskaya and cellist Leonid Shukayev are founding members of the SPSQ. Violist Boris Vayner joined in 2005, and second violinist Evgeny Zvonnikov joined in 2010.
The SPSQ’s Public Appearances
The SPSQ has performed hundreds of times in different countries, and their American tours comprise 48 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Their list of performance venues is too long to print here. In the past 15 years alone, they have performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Columbia University, Merkin Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, Yale University, Caramoor, Princeton University, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and a 2009 concert at the Library of Congress. Their concert venues include renowned museums, universities, and concert halls throughout the country.
In Canada, the SPSQ has performed at highly regarded music festivals coast to coast. They have made frequent appearances in Japan, the Netherlands, and Mexico. For 17 years, they have toured the U.K. and Ireland regularly, and their concert calendar has included many dates in Germany, Israel, Spain, France, Russia, and Brazil; as well as engagements in South and North Korea, Taiwan, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Andorra, Denmark, and Sweden.
The SPSQ’s most recent foreign concert was for BBC Radio 3 in London on July 21, 2011, where they collaborated with pianist Peter Donohoe, the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition winner. They performed on Mexican TV in February 2011, and in New York on station NY RTVI on Feb. 16, 2011.
The SPSQ has been featured in many newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Strad Magazine, and Strings Magazine.
Reviews: The St. Petersburg String Quartet
The following are reviews of the SPSQ’s Shostakovich Quartets recordings by Hyperion:
“Russian players have an unanswerable trump card when interpreting Russian music: self-evidently, they know what it’s all about. Besides that, the exceptional quality of these musicians makes this a recording to treasure.” – Classic FM Magazine
“These are estimable performances, full of meaningful details and engaging atmosphere ... a safe and rewarding continuation of the cycle.” – Fanfare, USA
“This is a superb disc.” – American Record Guide
“Stunningly characterised.” – The Strad
“The St. Petersburg Quartet employs the widest possible range of colour and articulation in its performances.” – BBC Music Magazine
“These are thoughtful and articulate performances ... they will substantially increase your appreciation of Shostakovich’s craftsmanship.” – International Record Review
“The recording is produced to the usual, exceptional Hyperion standards but the playing is something else again. This group obviously has this music in its collective soul and it shows ... A superb achievement that makes me want to hear the rest of the cycle as a priority.” – www.musicweb
“The St Petersburg musicians play with tremendous control of technique and expression; the effect is one of huge emotional strength.” – Birmingham Post
“These players approach Shostakovich’s mighty cycle with a natural authority that’s unanswerable, along with tireless precision and virtuosity, plus a wonderful command of the music’s way of switching between sunlight and shadow when you least expect it.” – Classic FM Magazine
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