The Fine Arts Quartet, now celebrating its 66th anniversary, is one of the most distinguished ensembles in chamber music today, with an illustrious history of performing success and an extensive recording legacy. Founded in Chicago in 1946, and based at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee since 1963, the Quartet is one of the elite few to have recorded and toured internationally for over half a century. Violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, who have performed together in the Quartet for nearly 30 years, were joined by violist Nicolò Eugelmi in 2009 and cellist Robert Cohen in 2012. Each season, the Fine Arts Quartet tours worldwide, with concerts in such musical centers as New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Mexico City, and Toronto.
The Quartet has recorded more than 200 works, over 80 of them with Evans, Boico, and the late Wolfgang Laufer. Their latest releases on Naxos include: the world premiere recording of Efrem Zimbalist’s Quartet in its 1959 revised edition, the world premiere digital recording of Eugène Ysaÿe’s long-lost masterpiece for quartet and string orchestra, “Harmonies du Soir”; Fritz Kreisler’s String Quartet, the two Saint-Saëns String Quartets, three Beethoven String Quintets; the Franck String Quartet and Piano Quintet; Fauré Piano Quintets; complete Bruckner chamber music; complete Mendelssohn String Quintets; “Four American Quartets” by Antheil, Herrmann, Glass, Evans; complete Schumann Quartets; and the Glazunov String Quintet and Novelettes. Aulos Musikado released their complete Dohnányi String Quartets and Piano Quintets, and Lyrinx released both their complete early Beethoven Quartets and complete Mozart String Quintets in SACD format. Releases planned for 2012 on Naxos include three of Robert Schumann’s greatest chamber works: the Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet, and Märchenerzählungen.
The Quartet’s recent recordings have received many distinctions. Their Fauré Quintets CD on Naxos with pianist Cristina Ortiz was singled out by the 2011 Gramophone Classical Music Guide as a “Gramophone award-winner and recording of legendary status”, and was among the recordings for which musical producer Steven Epstein won a 2009 Grammy® Award (“Producer of the Year, Classical”). The Quartet’s Franck CD was named “Editor’s Choice” by Gramophone Magazine in February, 2010, and their Glazunov, Mendelssohn, and Fauré CD’s were each named a “Recording of the Year” by Musicweb International (2007-2009). In addition, their “Four American Quartets” album was designated a “BBC Music Magazine Choice” in 2008, their Schumann CD was named “one of the very finest chamber music recordings of the year” by the American Record Guide in 2007, and their Mozart Quintets SACD box set was named a “Critic’s Choice 2003” by the American Record Guide. Nearly all of the Quartet’s Naxos CDs were selected for Grammy® Awards entry lists in the “Best Classical Album” and/or “Best Chamber Music Performance” categories. Special recognition was given for the Quartet’s commitment to contemporary music: a 2003-2004 national CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, given jointly by Chamber Music America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
The Quartet members have helped form and nurture many of today’s top international young ensembles. They have been guest professors at the national music conservatories of Paris and Lyon, as well as at the summer music schools of Yale University and Indiana University. They also appear regularly as jury members of major competitions such as Evian, Shostakovich, and Bordeaux. Documentaries on the Fine Arts Quartet have appeared on both French and American Public Television. For more information on the Quartet, please visit: www.fineartsquartet.org