String Quartet

Zehetmair Quartet

Thomas Zehetmair, violin
Kuba Jakowicz, violin
Ruth Killius, viola
Christian Elliott, cello

Credit: Keith Pattison


Founded in 1994 by Austrian violinist and conductor Thomas Zehetmair, the Zehetmair Quartet now ranks among the world’s finest string quartets. The quartet is renowned for its refined, intellectual interpretations characterised by a pristine, uncompromising approach. The four virtuosos perform at an exceptionally high technical level, instilling in their music an exceedingly rare combination of genuineness and remarkable expressiveness. In addition to a repertoire of widely known works, the quartet also captivates audiences with its profound understanding of contemporary music.

One of the unique artistic feats achieved by the quartet include, among other things, its cyclical performance of all string quartets by Robert Schumann in London’s Wigmore Hall, the world premiere of string quartet No. 2 by Heinz Holliger – a work commissioned by Köln Musik GmbH for the Zehetmair Quartet. The 2009 performance by the Zehetmair Quartet during festivities celebrating the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter in New York proved to be a phenomenal success.

For its recording of Bartók’s 4th and Hartmann’s 1st string quartet as well as the 1st and 3rd string quartet by Schumann with ECM, the Zehetmair Quartet garnered awards such as the Diapason d’Or for the year, the Gramophone Award (Record of the Year) and the Edison and Klara Prize for the year’s best international production.

A recording featuring string quartets No. 4 by Hindemith and No. 5 by Bartók was acclaimed as a reference recording in the media and was recognised with the Diapason d’Or for the year. The ensemble’s most recent …
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    27 Aug 15 Haydn & Hindemith Edinburgh Festival recital
    Queen's Hall

    “The Zehetmair Quartet gave one of the International Festival’s freshest, most bracing recitals so far, with each musical gesture – and there were plenty of flamboyant ones – seeming to come from an inner impulse, as though the music simply had to be like that.”
    David Kettle, The Scotsman, 28 August 2015 

    “The Zehetmair Quartet often performs from memory — the players learn their parts by heart before they even start to rehearse, and tend to unleash thrilling levels of musical insight and expressive freedom accordingly. There were music stands on stage at this Queen’s Hall morning recital, but the capacity to react to each other and take the music in new directions was there from note one.

    The quartet’s leader is the Austrian violinist and conductor Thomas Zehetmair, until last year music director of the Royal Northern Sinfonia and a superb all-round musician, simultaneously assertive and attentive, acutely detailed and instinctive. ”
    Kate Molleson, Herald Scotland, 28 August 2015 

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    14 Mar 14 Recital
    Wigmore Hall

    “The Zehetmairs came at it [Kreuzer Sonata] from a different angle, ultimately striking a finer balance between soulfulness and detachment…With Debussy’s Quartet in G, too, the results of the players’ experimentation were almost unfailingly positive, capturing the subtle shifts of light in the shimmering textures. The slow movement was a complete and wonderful work in itself.”
    The Guardian, 17 March 2014

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    08 Jan 12 Concert
    Wigmore Hall

    “Especially impressive here [Mozart G major Quartet] was the Zehetmair’s disembodied pianissimo. The suave Tempo di Menuetto finale was lovely, and held some interesting textural risks…The sheer intelligence of the Zehetmair Quartet, from their programming to the music’s realisation, is invigorating.”
    Seen and Heard, 19 January 2012

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    01 Nov 08 Hindemith Recording
    ECM New series

    “The real surprise is Hindemith’s much less familiar Fourth Quartet…Zehetmair and his colleagues show that it deserves a place among the finest of 20th-century works… the Zehetmair Quartet really have set a new benchmark”
    The Guardian, April 2007

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    01 Sep 06 Concert July 2006
    Cheltenham Festival 2006

    “It was their performance of Bartok’s epic Fifth Quartet that was the highlight of the programme. The enormous dynamic range the Zehetmairs create – from shimmering, delicate pianissimos to towering climaxes – made for a visceral experience…Not content with the challenges of Bartok and Mozart, an encore of a movement from a quartet by Hindemith was yet another demonstration of the unique alchemy between this group of players.”
    The Guardian, 5 July 2006