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date: 13 December 2019

Alban Berg Quartetlocked

  • Tully Potter

Extract

Austrian string quartet . It was founded in 1970 by Günter Pichler (b Kufstein, Tyrol, 9 Sept 1940), Klaus Mätzl, Hatto Beyerle and Valentin Erben (b Pernitz, 14 March 1945). Mätzl was replaced in 1978 by Gerhard Schulz (b Linz, 23 Sept 1951) and Beyerle in 1981 by Thomas Kakuska (b Vienna, 25 Aug 1940; d 4 July 2005). In 1969 the original members heard the LaSalle Quartet play virtually all the quartet music of the Second Viennese School at the Vienna Festival; and for the 1970–71 season they studied in Cincinnati with the LaSalle. In the autumn of 1971 they made their joint début at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, becoming the first full-time string quartet in that city's history – previous ensembles had combined chamber music with orchestral playing. In 1972 Berg's widow gave them permission to use his name. From the start the Alban Berg Quartet tried to include a contemporary work in every recital: its premières have included works by Leitermeyer, Einem, Wimberger, Rihm, Schnittke and Berio, and two each by Urbanner and Haubenstock-Ramati. Its playing, combining warmth and precision in a recognizably Viennese manner, has consistently reached the highest level of accomplishment, although its style has altered slightly. A change of second violinist made little difference but the substitution of Kakuska for Beyerle caused a noticeable switch of emphasis; a fine Mozart ensemble became a fine Haydn ensemble instead. Its homogeneity of tone – partly attributable to the fact that all except the cellist studied with Franz Samohyl – has remained constant throughout. The group's recordings have won many prizes. Berg's Quartet and Lyric Suite have been documented twice, as have the mature works by Mozart and Schubert and the Beethoven cycle – the second Beethoven set was recorded live. The individual members are professors at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst and the Cologne Hochschule für Musik, and all have musical interests outside the quartet: Pichler is a conductor, Schulz plays in other ensembles such as the Waldstein Trio, and Kakuska and Erben are soloists. Their instruments include a ...

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