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Quartet Tour Features American Premiere of Martinu Piano Quintet
The Graffe String Quartet joins pianist Michiko Otaki for their fourth American concert tour together, opening with a return to Spivey Hall in Atlanta on Sunday, February 10th and concluding with the Quartet’s New York debut at the Czech Center in NYC on Monday, February 25th. Other stops on the tour include Tampa (with pianist Grigorios Zamparas as well as Ms. Otaki), Detroit, and various points in between.
Prominent on the programs are the first performances in North America of the previously neglected and unheard Piano Quintet No. 0, H. 35, by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu. The 1911 work had its belated world premiere in Brno, Czech Republic in 2012 and was recorded by the Graffe Quartet and Michiko Otaki, a CD which was named “Recording of the Month” by MusicWeb International, calling it “a joy to listen to from start to finish.”
Also featured on the tour is Martinu’s better-known Second Piano Quintet, composed in 1944 when he was a resident of New York (also recorded by these artists) and the Brahms Piano Quintet. Works by Stamic, Boccherini, Mozart, Borodin, Suk, and Novák fill out the rest of the ensemble’s programs.
The two-movement Piano Quintet [Number Zero] was written in Martinu’s birthplace, the picturesque small town of Policka. Štepán Graffe, leader of the Graffe Quartet, discovered that the manuscript of the early score was stored in the museum of the town Policka and after consulting the Bohuslav Martinu Institute in Prague determined that the piece had never been performed and was basically forgotten. But it was forgotten unjustly since the Graffe Quartet found that further research revealed the piece as a remarkable two-movement composition. It fully anticipates the masterworks of Martinu from his later years, yet is interesting not only from a historical perspective but also on its own, with alternating melancholic, light-hearted, and desolate moods.
The Graffe’s previous recording of Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Suk was also selected as “Recording of the Month” by MusicWeb International which raved: “The playing is amongst the most sheerly beautiful I have heard from any string quartet.”
In 2008 the Graffe Quartet was awarded the Czech Chamber Music Society Prize, given at Dvorák Hall in Prague´s Rudolphinum, marking it as the premiere, most promising young ensemble from Central Europe. The ensemble was founded in 1997 at the Brno Conservatory and made its American debut in 2007. Members of the ensemble are Štepán Graffe and Lukáš Bednarík, violins, Lukáš Cybulski, viola, and Michal Hreno, violoncello.
Japanese-born pianist Michiko Otaki received degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Miami. Director of Keyboard Studies at Clayton State University in Atlanta, she has performed and recorded with many renowned international artists and ensembles including violist Roger Chase, the Kodály Quartet, Martinu Quartet, Warsaw Wind Quintet, Swiss Wind Quintet, Brno Chamber Soloists, Slovak Sinfonietta, Brno Chamber Orchestra, Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic, and the Pilsen Philharmonic.
For the Graffe Quartet’s detailed tour schedule, please click here.
For further information on the Graffe Quartet or Michiko Otaki, contact: