The Michelangelo Quartet was formed in 2002 by musicians distinguished as soloists, chamber musicians and teachers, sharing an irresistible desire to play together the greatest repertoire of all. Since their first concert season, 2003/4, they have toured regularly in Scandinavia, Benelux, the UK, Germany, Italy and Japan, giving concerts in major halls such as the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Tonhalle, Zürich, and London’s Wigmore Hall. Festival appearances have included Edinburgh, Lammermuir, Sion, Naantali, Hardanger, the Pablo Casals Festival, Prades, the Enescu Festival, Romania, and the Delft, New Zealand and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals. Critics have consistently praised the quartet for the collective virtuosity and wisdom of its members, as well as their musicality and intensity of feeling. They have recorded for Chaconne and for Pan Classics.
Romanian violinist Mihaela Martin has continued, through her teacher Stefan Gheorghiu, a violinistic line including David Oistrakh and Georges Enesco. Major prizes in the Tchaikovsky Competition and the First Indianapolis International Violin Competition, ensured her international career. Her chamber music partners have included Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Nobuko Imai, Leon Fleischer & Menahim Pressler. She is a professor at the Musikhochschule, Cologne, and teaches at the Kronberg Academy and the Barenboim Said Academy in Berlin.
Russian-born Daniel Austrich came to international attention after winning major prizes at the Sarasate and the Paganini Moscow International Competitions. He has played as soloist with the Moscow Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, St.Petersburg Camerata and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Chamber music performances include appereances with David Gerngas, Itzhak Perlman and the St. Petersburg Quartet. He is assistant professor for chamber music at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne, Germany
Japanese-born Nobuko Imai is considered one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. After studying at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Julliard School, she won high prizes at the Munich and Geneva International Competitions and her distinguished career has included membership of the Vermeer Quartet. Chamber music collaborators include Gidon Kremer, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Andras Schiff and Ronald Brautigam. She holds professorships at Amsterdam Conservatory, Kronberg International Academy, Ueno Gakuen University and Queen Sofia College of Music, Madrid.
Combining his love of chamber music with a solo career, Swedish cellist/conductor Frans Helmerson has performed with leading conductors and orchestras and at important international festivals. During the 1970's he was principal cellist of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he was strongly influenced by Celibidache. William Pleeth and Rostropovich have also been important influences. He teaches at the Kronberg Academy and the Barenboim Said Academy in Berlin.
Recent concert venues have included Wigmore Hall, London, Carnegie Hall, New York, and the Library of Congress, Washington. Their recent touring included a residence at the Lammermuir Festival in Scotland and visits to the Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, as well as performances in Japan, Israel and Germany.
Visit their own website here: www.michelangelostringquartet.com
Note to promoters: please do not use the above biography for publicity or programme purposes; contact Pro Artist for most recent version. Photograph is credited to Marco Borggreve.
Review: Michael Tumelty, The Herald, March 2012
There was a big story in the debut appearance at Perth Concert Hall on Wednesday night of the Michelangelo String Quartet. It's not a secret: it just hasn't been launched with pomp. Perth Concert Hall has signed up the Michelangelo Quartet to perform a complete cycle of Beethoven's String Quartets next season. Full details will be announced soon, but the quartets will be performed at six concerts between October this year and May 2013.
So the group's Perth debut on Wednesday was by way of a calling card. And what a calling card, with the finest, most spellbinding concert performances I have heard of Haydn's glorious Sunrise Quartet, Bartok's First String Quartet, rivetingly detailed and atmospheric, and of Dvorak's American Quartet, played with extraordinary elan, and securing from the music heart-beating joy of a quality rarely heard. The letter and spirit of Dvorak's flawless music was totally liberated by these gob-smacking musicians.
For those who don't know, the Michelangelo is a group of soloists, founded a decade ago by the great viola player Nobuko Imai. First violinist is the incomparable Mihaela Martin, who put neither foot nor finger wrong in some of the best first-violin playing I have witnessed (always the weak link, in any string quartet) Second violin, new to the line up, is Daniel Austrich, whose immaculate ensemble-playing locked him seamlessly into the group. Imai, of course, with her deep-throated, now warm, now husky, viola tone, is unique, as is cellist Frans Helmerson, whose pivotal role as anchor, lyricist and driving force was effortlessly executed. Groups made of soloists do not always gel. This one does. A wonderful night, and a mouthwatering prospect for next season.