Sunday, April 21, 2013, 7 p.m.
"They have the courage and they take their time for profound mourning. However, they never fall into an abyss of sentimentality."
—Süddeutsche Zeitung, November 7th, 2003
Founded in 1987 at the Liszt Conservatory of Music in Budapest, the Keller Quartet already achieved their international breakthrough in 1990 when winning all prizes and special awards at the Evian and Borciani Competitions.
Even though the quartet members have all completed their degrees as soloists, string quartet playing has always been their first choice. Three of the Liszt Conservatory’s most renowned professors took care of the young musicians and can be regarded as their mentors to this very day: Sandór Devich, András Mihály and György Kurtág, who also composes works for the quartet.
The Keller Quartet can be characterised by musical curiosity: curiosity about encounters with musicians and composers of all genres, curiosity about unknown works and new forms of programming, where unusual combinations develop their own dramatic tension. Exemplary for this is on the one hand their famous Bach/Kurtág program where parts of Bach’s „Art of the Fugue” are intertwined with works by György Kurtág or on the other hand the performance of the composition „Zwiegespräch” for string quartet and synthesizer by Kurtág father and son at the Vienna “Klangwochen” festival and at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
In search of connecting old and new, the Keller Quartet and the composer Jörg Widmann developed a new programming idea: Jörg Widmann composed his second string quartet, the „choral quartet” in relation to Joseph Haydn’s „Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross”. During performance both pieces are interwoven, the Widmann quartet intersecting the Haydn two times between movements. The Keller Quartet premiered this programme at the „Sommerliche Musiktage“ chamber music festival in Hitzacker in July 2003 and performed it in various cities in Germany and Europe since then.
The Keller Quartet very often devices the programme of international chamber music days and short festivals where they also regularly invite their musical partners, such as Miklós Perényi, Dénes Várjon, Chen Halevi, Alexej Lubimov and Ewa Kupiec.
Their recording of the complete string quartets of Bartók for Erato caused a sensation at the time. The Keller Quartet has enjoyed links to ECM for some time now and has recorded the “Art of the Fugue” by Bach as well as the complete works for string quartet by Kurtág. The year 2003 year saw the release of a CD with Schnittke’s Piano Quintet (with Alexej Lubimov) and the last string quartet of Shostakovich. A recording of all Bartók Duos for violins by the two violin players of the quartet also appeared on ECM. At the end of the year 2004 a DVD with the Bach/Kurtág-programme has been released by EuroArts. In 2008 NAXOS released the DVD "Oboe Dreams" where the Keller Quartet is performing together with legendary oboist Heinz Holliger.