Genre: Chamber Music
Founded in 1980, the Artis Quartet of Vienna has made an international reputation particularly for its performances of late-Romantic era and Expressionist string quartets, in addition to the standard Germanic quartet repertory.
The quartet began winning international music competitions, such as Evian, Cambridge, and Yellow Springs, during its rise to fame from 1983 to 1985. During those same years the quartet was resident in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they studied with the La Salle Quartet at the College Conservatory of Music. With recognition, they received the support of the Austrian National Bank, which loaned them historical instruments from its musical instrument collection.
The members of the quartet are: Peter Schuhmayer, first violin; Johannes Meissl, second violin; Herbert Kefer, viola; Othmar Muller, cello. All studied at the Vienna Musikhochschule, and all teach there or at the Graz Musikhochschule and give masterclasses around the world.
The Quartet has presented an annual concert series at the Wiener Musikverein since 1988. One notable career highlight for it was the invitation to play all 23 Mozart quartets during the 1991 Mozart Year, in concert series held both in Tokyo and in Vienna. It continues to be invited to international festivals, such as the Salzburger Festspiele, Ravinia, and the Brucknerfest Linz.
The Artis Quartet has recorded for Koch/Schwann, Accord, Orfeo, Sony Classics, and Nimbus. Its Accord disc of the Sixteenth String Quartet of Alberic Magnard won the Grand Prix International du Disque. For Accord it also recorded the complete quartets and the Capriccio and Fugue of Felix Mendelssohn (one release of which won the Diapason d'Or) and the complete quartet works of Hugo Wolf, which won the Cecilia Prize.
It began its identification with late-Romantic and Expressionist music with its Schoenberg, Zemlinsky, and Berg recordings for Orfeo. For Sony it recorded numerous quartets of Mozart (winning the Wiener Flotenuhr 1991 award) and the complete Webern quartet works, in addition to quartets of Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak, Smetana, Schumann, and Brahms.
The Quartet was awarded the Alexander Zemlinsky Award in 1997, beginning its relationship with Nimbus. After joining the Nimbus label, the group released its most acclaimed recordings, the complete quartets of Zemlinsky, which won the Diapason d'Or and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis Echo 2000, as well as being cited as the best of the year or month by several important classical music magazines. Artis has also recorded two quartets by the little-known Karl Wiegl, and repeated the Webern quartet works for Nimbus.
Artis is also committed to premiering contemporary works, including pieces by Gottfried v. Einem, Helmut Eder, Thomas Pernes, Richard Dunser, Gerhard E. Winkler, Thomas Larcher, Gerhard Schedl, Haimo Wisser, Wolfgang Kubizek, Harry Pepl and Antonio Pino Vargas.
All Music Guide