«Stamic Quartet» - biography, albums, songs, video clips

The Stamic Quartet (from 1985) established itself as one of the leading Czech string quartets of its time. Its victory in 1986 at the Salzburg-based National Broadcasting Union Competition catapulted them into the limelight, the players then launching their international careers with critically acclaimed tours across Europe and the Americas. The group is best known for its Czech repertory, especially the quartets of Dvorák and Martinu. Indeed, it has performed and recorded all 14 of Dvorák’s quartets, as well as the seven by Martinu. The group has also played much other Czech music, including works by Smetana, Janácek, Klusak, and Hába. But the repertory is hardly limited to Czech fare, taking in a whole range of works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Verdi, Borodin, Ravel, Hindemith, Britten, and little known modern composers like Jirí Teml, Ivan Kurz, Maximo Pujol, and Carlos Guastavino. Its recordings are available on a range of labels, including Bayer Records, Supraphon, ASV, Capriccio, and Brilliant Classics.

The Stamic (or Stamitz) Quartet was collectively formed in 1985 by Bohuslav Matousek (first violin), Josef Kekula (second violin), Jan Peruska (viola), and Vladimír Leixner (cello). All but Peruska were one-time members of the Dolezal Quartet. Over the years there have been several changes in the personnel of the Stamic players: Matousek, the leader of the group in its early years, departed in 1995 and was replaced by Vitezslav Cernoch. In 2001 Cernoch left and was replaced by Jindrich Pazdera. Leixner was the only other original member to depart; his replacement was Petr Hejny, who joined the ensemble in 2007.

Despite the changes in personnel, critics have generally agreed that the Stamic Quartet’s colorful sonic character and vital spirit have been a constant in its 2,000-plus performances and numerous recordings.

Throughout the 1990s the ensemble grew in international stature as it began to take on ambitious recording projects, notably the aforementioned quartets of Dvorák and Martinu. Both these cycles drew lavish accolades from critics across the globe and are still available on the Bayer Records label.

In 2000 the Stamic Quartet took on duties as organizers of the Prague-based EuroArt International Music Festival, an event where the quartet serves as resident ensemble. Among the Stamic Quartet’s more important later recordings is the 2007 four-disc set on Bayer of the 16 quartets and other chamber works of Alois Hába.