giugno 2, 2019

Al “Maggio della Musica” il gradito ritorno del Fine Arts Quartet, ensemble di straordinaria bravura

Veniamo quindi al Fine Arts Quartet, che avevamo già ascoltato anni fa in un paio di occasioni, rimanendo colpiti da un suono di livello altissimo e di assoluta nitidezza ed espressività, con un impressionante scavo nel particolare. Anche stavolta l’ensemble ha confermato di essere una eccellenza mondiale e la cosa maggiormente sbalorditiva è che, mentre i due violinisti Ralph Evans ed Efim Boico fanno parte del Quartetto, rispettivamente dal 1982 e dal 1983, il violista Gil Sharon e il violoncellista Niklas Schmidt hanno raggiunto la compagine solo lo scorso anno. Eppure, l’affiatamento evidenziato fra i quattro è stato talmente perfetto, che sembrava suonassero insieme da sempre, e la bravura assoluta del singolo (si pensi, ad esempio, allo strepitoso Ralph Evans), non incideva sul miracoloso equilibrio complessivo. Pubblico giustamente entusiasta, che ha chiesto ed ottenuto un bis beethoveniano, consistente nel movimento finale del Quartetto in fa maggiore, op. 18 n. 1, splendida chiusura di un concerto eccezionale, che ha riportato a Napoli un ensemble di caratura internazionale.

At the "Maggio della Musica" the welcome return of the Fine Arts Quartet, an ensemble of extraordinary skill We come then to the Fine Arts Quartet, which we had already heard years ago on a couple of occasions, being struck by a very high level sound and absolute clarity and expressiveness, with an impressive excavation in particular. Also this time the ensemble confirmed to be a world excellence and the most astonishing thing is that, while the two violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico are part of the Quartet, since 1982 and 1983 respectively, the violist Gil Sharon and the cellist Niklas Schmidt they reached the team only last year. And yet, the harmony shown between the four was so perfect, that they seemed to have always played together, and the absolute skill of the single (think, for example, of the amazing Ralph Evans), did not affect the miraculous overall balance. Rightly enthusiastic audience, who requested and obtained a Beethovenian bis, consisting of the final movement of the Quartet in F major, op. 18 n. 1, a splendid closing of an exceptional concert, which brought an international ensemble to Naples.


The Fine Arts Quartet fully lived up to its reputation with the kind of precision expected when great artists have been together for as long as 35 years (violinists Evans and Boico).

(James Harrington, American Record Guide, November/December 2018)


Le Fine Arts Quartet est de ces mythiques formations qui donnent le sentiment d’être confortablement installé chez soi devant des baffles diffusant les meilleures versions discographiques. Perfection de l’Opus 18 n° 1 avec un Adagio à tomber d’émotion, et qui donne envie de réécouter tout le corpus beethovénien. Même sentiment dans le virage à 180 degrés de l’impressionnant opus 122 de Chostakovitch. Naturel introductif, spectaculaire conclusif de chacun des mouvements, beauté tranquille du premier violon de Ralph Evans, soutien indéfectible du second violon d’Efim Boico, particulièrement impressionnant de pureté sonore dans les effets vivaldiens de l’Humoreske. Le Debussy est tout aussi soigné, avec une mention particulière pour la belle coloration des harmonies à l’antique de l’Andantino. Le festival se clôt en beauté avec ces belles et bonnes nouvelles venues d’Amérique. (Jean-Luc Clairet, ResMusica, le 23 août 2018)


"I wish that people who don't appreciate the greatness of Mozart had heard this program. It might have changed their minds! The Fine Arts Quartet is a very good group, and it was, indeed, a pleasure to hear...Their ensemble is excellent, and while they take vigorous tempi when appropriate, they don't play excessively fast just to show off...The audience reaction at the end was understandably enthusiastic." (Donald Isler, "The Classical Music Guide", July 20, 2018)


"We have just been treated here in the South of France to two rare concerts in two days by this legendary ensemble...At Beaulieu, as part of the Classic Festival, they played Dvorak, and in Fayence, as part of the String Quartet Festival of the Pays de Fayence, they played Bach, Barber, Bruckner and Beethoven. It is an extraordinary story: the quartet was founded in 1946 and the personnel has changed both much and little since. There have been only two leaders at the first violin desk, but the other three desks have seen more frequent change. And as a record collector I would say that the early reputation was for an extreme precision but also a wiry, taut sound, which suited their devotion to new music and indeed especially to new American music. The precision has remained but the taut sound has evolved to an exceptional exchange between lean and lush, and to a bewilderingly apt subtlety of tempo. The highlights were the Dvorak so-called “American” quartet (Beaulieu, Saturday 16th) and Beethoven’s vast Op.131 (Fayence, Sunday 17th), in both of which the sheen of precision was finely matched by our feeling of the raw presence of the fiddle. In the Dvorak especially, a piece riddled with the influences of native folk music, I had never before heard so well the lurking open-air barn-dance element that is epitomised by the shindig scene with Henry Fonda in John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine”. Even in the Beethoven, written for the quartet led by a man with the fiddle-rich name Schuppanzigh, the man who complained of the technical difficulties and to whom Beethoven famously retorted, “What do I care about your damned fiddle?!” – even here we were treated to rare insights of the flowering of folk instinct into high art of the deepest humanity."

(Jonathon Brown At Large, September 18, 2017)

Leusden, The Netherlands, November 2017

Valley Concert of November 16th: Unparalleled Musical Highlight (headline)
The world famous Fine Arts Quartet performed at the Dorpskerk in Leusden on Thursday, Nov 16...What a world-class event, what a joy!

 (Leusner Kant, 17 November, 2017)

Edmonton Summer Solstice Festival, June 2016

"FINE ARTS QUARTET: HIGHLIGHT OF SUCCESSFUL SUMMER SOLSTICE FESTIVAL (headline)...Central to the week has been the Fine Arts Quartet...[which] is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and its current personal have continued the hallmarks that have made them one of the world’s finest quartets...At the heart of their sound is a gloriously rich and resonant glow, difficult to describe, except by analogy — the depth of a vintage red wine, perhaps, or the glow of polished mahogany. It’s created by tone, by shared understanding, and by subtleties of phrasing. Every string quartet strives for it; only the best ones succeed, and few as well as the Fine Arts."

(Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal, June 26, 2016)    

Göttingen, Germany, November 2015

"Magnificent Celebration of Sound - The Fine Arts Quartet Guests at the Aula in Göttingen  

The work [Arriaga Quartet No.3] was presented with seriousness and passion, majesty and tempestuousness  - with the highest standard of musical perfection.  One can clearly see that the gentlemen on stage have already performed together for a number of years. And thus, a perfect sound could arise, combined with an incredibly precise and synchronized dynamics...And also here [in the Ravel Quartet], the Göttinger audience experienced a magnificent display of sound: both the lyrically delicate passages and the dramatic climaxes were presented with great empathy for the composition. The complex time signature changes in the last movement sounded playful and natural."

(Jens Wortmann, Kulturbüro Göttingen, November 16, 2015)

The Fine Arts Quartet Thrills with Schumann, Ravel and Arriaga at the Aula of the University

The guests from the USA enlightening program whose impact was all the more assured because its execution was in masterful hands…They displayed seriousness and dedication in [Arriaga's Quartet No.3], a stroke of genius, and brought elegance and esprit to it with beautiful unity…

In the Fine Arts Quartet's brilliant interpretation [of Ravel Quartet], every accent and every impulse had its place, tone colors were very finely set, and crescendos were well calculated to produce goose bumps...The musicians made Schumann's music flourish in poetic, rhythmic succinctness, interspersed with singing cantilenas which showcased the music's emphasis and furor; a ravishing performance which the delighted audience greeted with several minutes of applause." 

(Matthias Körber, Göttinger Tageblatt, 17 November 2015) 

Pablo Casals Festival, Prades 2015

The Fine Arts Quartet demonstrated its technical skill and unfailing musical understanding...In the String Quartet No. 1 in A minor op. 41/1 by Schumann, the four string players from Chicago offered a striking interpretation.

(, July 30, 2015) Full Review

"The four movements (" The Bird", one of the Opus 33 quartets of Joseph Haydn) were splendidly presented by the Fine Arts Quartet, which conferred Haydnienne grace and transparency on the writing."

(Michèle Tosi, ResMusica, August 13, 2015)   Full Review

"The Fine Arts Quartet opened the program with Haydn's Quartet Opus 77 # 1 / Hob.III.81. The four artists went right down to business capturing the spirit of the work with great ease. Right from the start of the opening Allegro moderato, one could understand that the artists were displaying the mixture of style and humanity inherent in this Quartet in G major with the most natural phrasing and refined colors. It wasn't easy to resist smiling."

(Alain Cochard,, August 9, 2015)  Full Review

Polinger Artists of Excellence Concert Series at the JCCGW, Washington, D.C., March 2015

"FINE ARTS QUARTET: LIKE WELCOMING AN OLD FRIEND. The ensemble's concert at the JCCGW was at once familiar and powerful.

The first half of the Fine Arts Quartet concert at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington on Sunday felt like settling into a pair of comfortable old slippers.

New players may replace older ones from time to time (cellist Robert Cohen and violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez joined less than two years ago), but the quartet’s well-seasoned culture has endured. Violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, who have been playing together for more than 32 years, are supremely well matched. Their soft-edged tone and phrasing define a “Fine Arts” sound that Cohen has picked up and that Hernandez accommodates himself to when he isn’t lavishing his gorgeous warm sound on a particularly juicy solo phrase.

They treated Mozart’s String Quartet in A, K. 464, like an old friend — its first movement a gentle and amiable welcome, a somewhat subdued third movement Andante and a playful finale handled with a jaunty light touch. Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, sounded more determined than insistent, with a steady energy that seemed to be trying to impose order on the composer’s flailing instead of reveling in it.

The second half of the program, however, brought out a passionate side of the ensemble that took on the romantic urgency of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 2, Op. 22, with an urgency of its own. The musicians’ first movement rubatoes lingered tantalizingly, long crescendos built with both power and tenderness, and the galloping finale, with its slithering chromaticisms and fugal playfulness, was a refreshing palate-cleanser.

(Joan Reinthaler, Washington Post, March 9, 2015). 

Palm Beach, Florida, February 2015

"FINE ARTS QUARTET THRILLS FLAGLER MUSEUM AUDIENCE...The Fine Arts Quartet is an American chamber music institution. Founded in 1946, it has achieved celebrity and commendable music integrity (sometimes, a rare combination). Despite the ensemble’s long history (its two violinists have been playing together for more than 30 years), there is nothing fossilized about their music making, as the audience of the Flagler Museum Music Series could attest on Tuesday. Presenting a program with two technically and musically demanding masterworks, the quartet impressed thanks to its beautiful sound, cohesive ensemble work and, most important, its variegated sound palette...The quartet made a strong case for the work, with a passionate rendition. Surely, the almost symphonic sound its members displayed was impressive, but equally impressive were the different colorations they were able to produce at the more intimate moments...It was played with the combination of pathos and balance only an ensemble that has been around for decades may achieve. Another highlight was the pacing of the last movement, which ended the evening in such an exciting note that the audience gave the Fine Arts Quartet four curtain calls.  

(Marcio Bezerra, Palm Beach Daily News, Feb. 18, 2015) Full review

Lake District Summer Music Festival, UK

"Fine Arts String Quartet performance is technically brilliant. The first string quartet recital in this year’s Lake District Summer Music festival was given by the distinguished Fine Arts String Quartet making the ensemble’s first visit to the festival. The quartet has a distinguished record, having recorded more than 200 works, many of which have won prestigious awards. Listening to the performances at Kendal Parish Church, it was not difficult to account for this success. The playing of all four players is technically brilliant; but, more than this, they display a deep understanding of the music and communicate this to their audience. The concert opened with a late Haydn Quartet, Op77 No 2. The four players clearly revelled in the intricate counterpoint and the humorous touch...Schubert’s D minor string quartet...completed the programme. The players got to the emotional heart of the work. The opening was notable for its energy and rhythmic drive; the slow movement opening...was magical in effect, so beautifully phrased with a wide range of tone colours and dynamic contrasts. The last movement was again remarkable for its energy, rhythmic drive and forward momentum. This was string quartet playing at it finest and left one with a desire to hear this fine quartet again.

(Clive Walkley, Westmoreland Gazette, 6 August 2014) Full review

Milwaukee Summer Evenings of Music Festival

"Teenage Dream. A taste of Arriaga’s brilliant potential opened an enchanting concert Sunday night by the Fine Arts Quartet at UWM’s Zelazo Hall. His third string quartet, published when he was only 16, is one of the great pleasures of 19th-century music: elegant, playful and lyrically rich...And the FAQ...played it with dazzling ease."

(Paul Kosidowski, Milwaukee Magazine, June 9, 2014) Full review

Washington DC: National Gallery of Art

Efrem Zimbalist Sr. and Fritz Kreisler, friends who shared fame as among the finest violinists of the first half of the 20th century, shared something else — they both dabbled in composing and each wrote a single romantically-infused string quartet. The venerable Fine Arts Quartet, which has espoused these rarely played pieces, has recorded them and performed them widely, brought the pair to the National Gallery of Art on Sunday along with another rarity, the two movements of the youthful Rachmaninoff’s unfinished G Minor Quartet. To say that the Fine Arts has made the Zimbalist and Kreisler works its own would be an understatement. On Sunday night, the quartet inhabited the heart-on-sleeve longing of Kreisler’s overstuffed and sometimes slithery textures with a comfort that was as convincing as its cheerful abandon in the highly stylized dance of the quartet’s last movement.

(Joan Reinthaler Washington Post, February 10, 2014)  Full review

Casals Festival: San Juan, Puerto Rico

PRECISO EL FINE ARTS QUARTET - DERROCHO EXPERIENCIA Y TALENTO EN CONCIERTO DOMINICAL...Una de las mayores virtudes del Festival Casals es la oportunidad de asistir a conciertos de música de cámara de óptima calidad...Todavía se recuerdan esos fantásticos conciertos de cámara con el maestro Casals al violonchelo, Isaac Stern y Alexander Schneider al violín y Mieczyslav Horszowski al piano, entre otros. La tradición continúa. Este pasado domingo se presentó en la Sala Sinfónica Pablo Casals el Fine Arts Quartet. Aunque es uno de los más antiguos cuartetos activos de Norteamérica, fundado en 1946, dos de los cuatro integrantes actuales llevan poco tiempo tocando en el grupo. Sin embargo, a juzgar por la muestra ofrecida en este recital, los miembros se han acoplado magníficamente bien. El programa comenzó con el Cuarteto de cuerdas núm. 7 en fa sostenido menor, op. 108, de Dmitri Shostakovich...El Fine Arts Quartet optó sabiamente por concentrarse en el humor sutil plasmado en la partitura, para dejar que la melancolía apareciera por sí sola, sin forzarla, como un leve eco escuchado a lo lejos. El resultado fue extraordinario...Una interesante obra [el Cuarteto en la menor del gran violinista Fritz Kreisler] cuyo inconfundible aire vienés fue subrayado por el Fine Arts Quartet con gracia y buen gusto, presentando admirablemente las melodías románticas...El finale del Quinteto en re mayor, K.593, de Mozart, figuró como encore; una joya que en las diestras manos del conjunto brilló con su genial jocosidad.

(Luis Hernández Mergal, El Nuevo Día, 25 de febrero de 2014) Full review

Hamilton, Canada

"The playing was really wonderful. I wasn't prepared for the range of articulations and dynamics, nor for the incredibly tight ensemble playing which continued throughout the recital...The Fine Arts Quartet gave a tour de force performance...I came away very impressed."

(David S Fawcett, Composer's Notebook, Sept 19, 2013)  Full review

Prades, France

"[Le Fine Arts Quartet] donne une splendide version de la Sérénade italienne d’Hugo Wolf, vibrante, légère et rapide, à l’équilibre idéal...La qualité d’exécution est au dessus du lot, avec un Ralph Evans en forme étincelante, dont l’archet vole sur l’instrument, et des partenaires qui font de même...Le Fine Arts Quartet joue ces pages (Herrmann) avec une implication irréprochable, faisant une démonstration de légèreté et de finesse de timbre." 

(Richard Letawe,, 6 août 2013)

Montreal, Canada

"Last night, the audience was treated to the incomparable playing of the Fine Arts Quartet whose gifted musicality and technical expertise ably took on works by Saint-Saëns...remarkable sensitivities exerted passionately by the Fine Arts Quartet...Bravo to the members of the Fine Arts Quartet whose impeccable phrasing, timing and unbeatable interpretation of each piece vividly expressed all the miniscule and big moments of musical nuances residing in Saint-Saëns creative imagination."

(Nancy Snipper, Arts and Opinions, Vol.12, No.2, May 2013)  Full review

Naples, Italy

"La rassegna “Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival” riporta a Napoli lo straordinario Fine Arts Quartet...che si è confermato ensemble di caratura mondiale, caratterizzato da un suono di grande nitidezza e da un affiatamento perfetto."

(Criticaclassica, 20 luglio 2013) Full review

Washington DC: Kennedy Center

"Put together a list of the world’s most enduring string quartets, and the Fine Arts Quartet — a powerhouse of American chamber music for more than six decades — will rank very near the top. That’s due to the group’s incisive powers of interpretation and a taste for off-the-beaten-path repertoire, both of which were in evidence...Tuesday night, when the quartet appeared at the Kennedy Center...The Fine Arts Players turned in a superb and absolutely impassioned performance — a seamless and astute reading from its slashing opening chords to its galloping, heart-racing finale."

(Stephen Brookes, Washington Post, December 13, 2012) Full review