Thursday, March 12, 2009

Introducing the Mosaïques, part I

The last concert of our 2008-2009 season is the Quatuor Mosaïques, and this is one I am especially looking forward to for lots of different reasons. Firstly, I am very fond of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Concentus Musicus Wien, and being able to present this extraordinary string quartet composed of members (or ex-members in the case of cellist Christophe Coin) of this marvelous ensemble is quite a privilege. But reducing this string quartet to their relationship to the Concentus Musicus is not very fair either, as they have succeeded on their own in becoming the first (maybe with the exception of the Festestics) string quartet playing on period instruments to play at the level of the legendary string quartets (on modern instruments) of the past and of today.

Over the next few entries to this blog, I shall try to present the other members of the Mosaiques, but let me start with first violin Erich Höbarth. Mr Höbarth is probably most famous for having succeeded Alice Harnoncourt as concertmaster and soloist of the Concentus Musicus Wien in the 80s (and as such can be heard in numerous recordings of the ensemble), but -also very impressively- he became a member of the famous Végh-Quartet at only 21, and first concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony at only 24. He was also a member of the Vienna String Sextet, appears as a soloist with countless ensembles such as the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Chapelle Royale of Paris and is Artsitic Director of the Camerata Bern. Needless to say he is a master of both the modern and baroque violin and plays on a violin by Guarnerius filius Andreae, Cremona 1705.

With the exception of French cellist Christophe Coin (who I guess came up with the French name for this string quartet and whom I shall present next), all the members of Quatuor Mosaïques are Viennese and are also part of the very special Viennese baroque movement (there have been a lot of arguments about how different the Concentus Musicus sounds compared to other ensembles from Amsterdam and elsewhere and how different their baroque technique can be) and being able to hear this fine ensemble in a purely Viennese program (Haydn, Mozart and Schubert) is quite a rare opportunity that I invite you not to miss.

Laurent Planchon

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