In the Studio: The Fine Arts Quartet records Beethoven

Recording sessions for The Fine Arts Quartet’s sixteenth Naxos production took place in Germany at the Christuskirche, Berlin-Oberschöneweide from 26 to 29 November 2018. The all-Beethoven programme, scheduled for release in 2019, has the monumental Grosse Fuge as its centrepiece, complemented by an intriguing group of rarities: Beethoven’s brilliant, yet forgotten original versions of his quartets Op. 18, No. 1 and Op. 131, plus a number of miniatures, including his virtually unknown Preludes and Fugues.

Founded in Chicago in 1946, the internationally renowned Fine Arts Quartet (violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Gil Sharon, cellist Niklas Schmidt) celebrated its 72nd anniversary this year, continuing to live up to its reputation as “One of the gold-plated names in chamber music.” (Washington Post)

The ensemble made its first recording for Naxos in 2006. Featuring Robert Schumann’s 3 String Quartets, Op. 41, it received the American Record Guide’s “Critic’s Choice” award and was described as “One of the very finest chamber-music recordings of the year.” From that auspicious beginning, a happy association between artists and label has continued to produce a steady stream of acclaimed performances of eclectic chamber works.

Fine Arts Quartet background and Naxos discography

Fine Arts Quartet Announces New Members

Hilda Woolf, manager of the Fine Arts Quartet in France and the UK, issued the following announcement in 2017:

"It is a great pleasure to announce that the renowned Fine Arts Quartet (FAQ), one of the world's most enduring and recorded quartets, will soon be joined by two exceptional and experienced chamber musicians: violist Gil Sharon (Amati Ensemble) and cellist Niklas Schmidt (Trio Fontenay). As the legendary FAQ celebrates its 72nd anniversary, violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, who have performed together for 35 years, are thrilled to welcome such dedicated and accomplished artists who have been frequent guest artists with the FAQ over the years. Upcoming events with the new members include a European tour in the summer of 2018, concerts at the San Miguel de Allende Festival in Mexico and International Mendelssohn Festival in Hamburg, and a new recording, the Quartet's 16th for the Naxos label. The FAQ has recorded over 200 works, with their latest, a recording of Mozart, due to be released by Naxos in September, 2018."

Fine Arts Quartet in 72nd season


The Strad: Two new members among big changes for Fine Arts Quartet in 72nd season

"The Fine Arts Quartet is drawing to the end of a 55-year residency at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with its final concerts as part of the arrangement taking place at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts on 27 and 28 January.

At the same juncture, its current violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez and cellist Robert Cohen will be leaving the group, and will be replaced by Gil Sharon and Niklas Schmidt respectively. ‘As the legendary FAQ celebrates its 72nd anniversary, violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, who have performed together for 35 years, are thrilled by the incoming new members’ positive energy, enthusiasm, and dedication,’ the quartet’s management told The Strad.

The incoming musicians are both experienced chamber specialists: Gil Sharon, as a violinist, founded and lead the Sharon Quartet and Netherlands-based Amati Ensemble, while Niklas Schmidt was a founder member of the Trio Fontenay.

Ralph Evans is only the second leader in the Fine Arts Quartet’s history..."



Mozart Piano Concertos CD released

Naxos releases Mozart's two most famous Piano Concertos with pianist Alon Goldstein, the Fine Arts Quartet and Rachel Calin.

To make Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 466 and K. 467 more accessible to the public, the 19th-century composer Ignaz Lachner left the piano parts untouched and made splendid transcriptions of the orchestra parts for just string quartet with added bass. These chamber versions of two of Mozart’s greatest and most popular concertos sound almost as natural as if Mozart had transcribed them himself.

Standing ovation at the Kennedy Centre

The Fine Arts Quartet receives a standing ovation at their sell-out performance on December 11th. "...a powerhouse of American chamber music..." the Washington Post reported, going on to say "The Fine Arts Quartet turned in a superb and absolutely impassioned performance — a seamless and astute reading from its slashing opening chords to its galloping, heart-racing finale."

New Schumann Recording released

The Fine Arts Quartet, with pianist Xiayin Wang, has recorded three chamber music masterpieces by Robert Schumann: the Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet, and Piano Trio (Fairy Tales). The sessions, which took place December 13-16, 2010 at the American Academy of the Arts and Letters in New York, were produced and engineered by Grammy® Award winner Steven Epstein. This CD, the Fine Arts Quartet's 11th recording for the Naxos label, was released in September, 2012. See Naxos News story about the recording session.

Festival Season

During the months July-September 2011, the Fine Arts Quartet appeared in many renowned international festivals, among them: Ottawa's Music and Beyond Festival,  Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival, Lille's Festival Clef de Soleil,  Festival des Arcs, Musicales Internationales Guil Durance, Festival Pablo Casals de Prades, Sion Festival,  and the George Enescu Festival in Bucharest.

Acclaim for Fauré Quintets recording

The 2011 Gramophone Classical Music Guide singled out the Fine Arts Quartet's Fauré Quintets CD with pianist Cristina Ortiz on Naxos as a "Gramophone award-winner and recording of legendary status". The Guide also labeled it as, "Simply the best: An unrivalled version, a cornerstone of the catalogue. A real gem!", and listed it as among the Guide's top 100 recordings.  "Ideally balanced and recorded, Cristina Ortiz and the Fine Arts Quartet offer performances that are warmly affectionate, fluent and musicianly to the core. Surpassing Domus's fine Hyperion disc, these are outstanding readings."