Described in The Times as having “Passion, precision, warmth, a gold blend: these are the trademarks of this excellent Israeli string quartet,” the Jerusalem Quartet has been lauded in The Strad: “Whenever Shostakovich gives these fine players a chance to sing, they touch the heart in this music as very few before.” Formed in 1993, the quartet is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a world tour, and Taiwan will be its first stop. Performing in Taiwan for the first time, the quartet will be holding concerts in Kaohsiung on Jan. 12 and in Taipei on Jan. 14. The two concerts will include string quartets by Borodin, Beethoven, Smetana and Shostakovich.
The members of the quartet, which was formed in 1993 while they were all first-chair players in conservatory orchestras in Jerusalem, had actually started playing together in an ensemble at the age of 15. In 1996 these four musicians won the first prize in chamber music at the Jerusalem Academy, and then won a double prize at the Graz International Competition the following year for their interpretations of works by Bartok and Kurtag. They are a three-time recipient of the BBC Music Magazine Award in the chamber category and also received an ECHO Klassik Award in 2009.
Making its Taiwan debut, the quartet will be performing Shostakovich’s last string quartet, which it says was composed when his health was rapidly deteriorating and can therefore be considered the composer’s own personal diary. The plaintive mourning that pervades the piece becomes a foreboding of imminent death as well as a farewell to his loved ones. For this reason, all lights will be turned off in the concert hall during the quartet’s performance of the piece, leaving only the dim, tiny lights on the music stands lit, allowing the audience to delve deeper into the heart of the composer.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)