The Arod Quartet, founded just four years ago in Paris, seems to have been destined for Erato: its young players have been mentored by both the Ebène Quartet and the Artemis Quartet, ensembles that have made a substantial contribution to the label’s catalogue of chamber music. Mendelssohn, the composer the Arod Quartet’s members have chosen for the Erato debut, also features in the discographies of both the Ebène and, especially, the Artemis. Moreover, the Arod’s first album has been produced by the Ebène’s former viola player, Mathieu Herzog.
The Arod – named after Legolas’ horse in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (the name means ‘swift’) – won the high-profile ARD Competition in Munich in 2016 and are now artists-in-residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels, Brussels’ most prestigious musical training institution. In 2014 the quartet took first prize at the Carl Nielsen Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen in 2015 and in 2014 won the FNAPEC European Competition in Paris.
Over the 2017-2018 season the Arod Quartet will perform in Paris at the Philharmonie, Auditorium du Louvre and Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, in Metz, Bordeaux and Montpellier, at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Salzburg Mozarteum, Vienna Konzerthaus, Brussels Bozar, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Tonhalle Zurich, Schloss Elmau in Germany, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisboa and in Italy, Denmark, Serbia and Japan. Festivals to which the Arod Quartet has been invited include Verbier, Montreux, Aix-en-Provence, Menton, Salon-de-Provence, Folle Journée de Nantes, Pablo Casals Festival of Prades, Heidelberg, Rheingau, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Bremen Musikfest, Mozartfest Würzburg and Prague Spring Music Festival. The ensemble has collaborated with such instrumentalists as the viola-players Amihai Grosz and Mathieu Herzog, clarinettists Martin Fröst, Romain Guyot and Michel Lethiec, pianist Eric Lesage, and cellists Raphaël Pidoux, François Salque, Harriet Krijgh and Bruno Philippe.
On this debut album of Mendelssohn, the Arod Quartet performs with a singer, the young mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, who is already making her mark as an Erato artist. The string players accompany her in the song ‘Ist es wahr?, which supplied thematic material for the composer’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, op 13. The album is completed by the Quartet No. 4 in E minor, op 44 No. 2 and the Four Pieces for String Quartet op 81.
As the members of the quartet explain, Mendelssohn has played an important place in their musical life together. “Four years ago the four of us met. We opened our first score in a small, badly-lit room at the Paris Conservatoire, and we started to play.” The music was Mendelssohn’s op 13. “We were overwhelmed with love for the quartet as a form; it had us in its grip and it has never let us go. Time has passed, but op 13 has remained close to our hearts … We have grown up with it, learned with it and won our two biggest competitions with it … Felix Mendelssohn has been so important in our life as a quartet that we have decided to delve into his, conceiving this album as a narrative of his life as a composer, as seen through his works for quartet: the first quartet he composed (op 13); the quartet he wrote in the year he got married, 10 years later (op 44 No. 2), and the four pieces of op 81, written at different periods, but in particular during the last three years of his life.”