When violist Jan Grüning auditioned to hitch the Ariel Quartet in 2011, socializing got here earlier than setting bows on strings.
“I came the night before and we started by having dinner and hanging out and playing board games and starting to get to know each other,” Grüning says. “The subsequent morning we began studying music.
“So it began from a social element. It type of took the stress off,” he says. “You see that there’s stuff to talk about, you get along. And then … well, you hope and pray that it musically fits, too.”
Seven years later, there’s no query that Grüning suits in, each socially and musically. He went on to marry Ariel’s cellist Amit Even-Tov, and the couple’s daughter was born this yr. The quartet, which performs in Ottawa on Monday, receives rave opinions that steadily cite its depth — a 2014 New York Times critic referred to the ensemble’s “gift for filling the pristine structures of classicism with fire.”
By the time Grüning got here on board, changing the founding violist who was transferring to Japan, the Ariel Quartet had already been collectively for greater than a decade, regardless of the youthfulness of its members.
The quartet’s violinists Alexandra Kazovsky and Gershon Gerchikov and cellist Amit Even-Tov first met in the late 1990s whereas attending the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. They had been scarcely youngsters.
“Their teacher … he gave them pretty amazing pieces,” says Grüning. “The repertoire is so huge and so fascinating that he knew very nicely find out how to give them items that had been simply out of their attain and have them develop with them. They received hooked, and fairly quickly, they are saying they had been skipping faculty to rehearse.
“The genesis of this quartet is fairly distinctive,” Grüning says. “They spent all of this time collectively, each minute of day by day besides after they had been asleep, principally from the age of 12 or 13 on … These are the most youth, as a result of our id, it’s so influenced by who we spend time with and the way that point is spent. Spending a lot time collectively, that kinds a really particular type of core, and a really particular relationship that’s so sturdy.
“This deep, deep friendship, which is principally actually like household, it’s deeply ingrained in our music. It’s completely inseparable, it melds collectively at the core, and I believe that goes into our sound, into our interpretation.”
That stated, Grüning candidly provides that the quartet members, whom he describes as 4 “very strong and distinct personalities,” aren’t above the occasional heated argument.
“I can’t remember the last time we had a fight where we were really, really screaming at each other, but it’s not like it didn’t happen,” he says. “I believe it occurs in each good quartet. It occurs in each household.
“Fights are largely born from very, very sturdy emotional convictions and involvement in a musical difficulty,” Grüning says. “It’s gotten less, as age and wisdom kick in. But I think actually that’s a good thing, that people need to go through that … Out of the conflict is born a solution which is not his or hers. It’s a solution which truly is a result of overcoming an issue and coming to a larger solution.”
Soon after Grüning joined the quartet, the group moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to grow to be the quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, a place that they proceed to carry.
In addition to instructing and giving concert events, the quartet is spearheading a group outreach program that sees college students carry out and converse at seniors properties, hospitals and even prisons.
“It makes what they do relevant,” Grüning says. “I remember very well just standing in my own practice room and practicing scales all day long. Always there was this nagging question, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
The outreach program, he continues, “gives you a much bigger understanding of the difference that music can make in people’s lives.”
The quartet maintains a busy touring schedule, particularly when faculty is out. Last spring, the group gave concert events in Victoria, B.C., Israel, Germany, and in Lunenburg, N.S. In August, the group performs in New York after which Italy.
In Ottawa, the quartet is to play three items — Schumann’s String Quartet in F main, Op.41, No. 2, Ravel’s String Quartet in F main and Mendelssohn’s Octet for strings in E flat main, Op. 20.
The Schumann piece, Grüning says, is sometimes heard and is “a lot more difficult to play and to pull off than most of the other repertoire.” But, he says, it’s value the effort. “It’s such poetic music and it’s so intimate and so directly connecting with the audience that we love playing it,” he says.
In distinction, the Ravel quartet is certainly one of the staples of the repertoire, Grüning says. “It’s an audience-pleaser and it’s a player-pleaser, I think. It’s not always the case that the two overlap.”
For the Mendelssohn piece, Grüning’s group will be a part of with the Rolston String Quartet, the younger and prize-winning Canadian ensemble. “I do know of them and I’m excited to play with them. It can be enjoyable,” Grüning says.
Although string gamers have performed and skim by the Octet “millions of times,” the piece has not grow to be overplayed, Grüning says. “When you come together, it’s always so much fun. It’s like the first time you read it. It’s impressive. And that’s just purely because the piece is so damn good.”
Ariel Quartet with the Rolston String Quartet
When: Monday, July 30, 7 p.m.
Where: Dominion-Chalmers United Church