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Escher String Quartet

Escher String Quartet


Adam Barnett-Hart, violin
Brendan Speltz, violin
Pierre Lapointe, viola
Brook Speltz, cello

The Escher String Quartet has received acclaim for their profound musical insight and rare tonal beauty. A former BBC New Generation Artist and recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, they’ve performed at London’s Cadogan Hall for the BBC Proms, are regular guests at London’s Wigmore Hall, and in their hometown of New York City, are season artists of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

In the 2022–23 season, the quartet toured the United States extensively, with engagements including Alice Tully Hall and Bohemian National Hall in New York City; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the Harris Theater in Chicago; Santa Fe Pro Musica; New Orleans Friends of Music; the Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City; Chamber Music Cincinnati; the Florida Keys Concert Association; and, with the Emerson String Quartet, the Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. The quartet also maintained its close association with Wigmore Hall and made debuts in St. John in the US Virgin Islands and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.

The Escher String Quartet has made a distinctive impression throughout Europe, having made recent debuts at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, London’s Kings Place, Paris’s Auditorium du Louvre, Les Grands Interprètes Geneva, Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Their festival appearances include the Heidelberg Spring Festival, at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Great Music in Irish Houses festival in Dublin, the Risør Chamber Music Festival in Norway, the Perth International Arts Festival in Australia, and the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival.

Alongside their growing European profile, the Escher’s US profile continues to flourish, with recent engagements including the Aspen, Bravo! Vail, Bowdoin International, and Santa Fe Chamber music festivals; Toronto Summer Music; Chamber Music San Francisco; Music@Menlo; the Ravinia Festival; and Caramoor. The quartet has also held faculty positions at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and The University of Akron in Ohio.

The 2022–23 season saw the release of two albums: Air in Motion, for Orchid Classics, which includes the Escher playing string quartets by Pierre Jalbert, and a recording of Janáček’s two string quartets and Haas’s Quartet No. 2, which features award-winning percussionist Colin Currie, for BIS Records.

In the fall of 2021, the Escher released an album featuring the complete quartets of Ives and Barber for BIS. The Strad magazine called it “a fascinating snapshot of American quartets” and “a first-rate release all around.” Between 2015 and 2018, the Escher released recordings of the complete Mendelssohn String Quartets and beloved Romantic quartets by Dvořák, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky, also on BIS, to the highest critical acclaim, with BBC Music Magazine praising the Escher for their “eloquent, full-blooded playing” and “beautiful blend of individuality and accord.” The quartet’s 2019 album Dance, with Grammy Award–winning guitarist Jason Vieaux, was also enthusiastically received, and a two-volume set of the complete Zemlinsky String Quartets, released on the Naxos label in 2013 and 2014, earned high accolades as well, including a five-star review in The Guardian, which named it Classical CD of the Year; a recommendation in The Strad; being named Recording of the Month by MusicWeb International; and a BBC Music Magazine Award nomination.

Within months of its inception in 2005, the Escher String Quartet came to the attention of key musical figures worldwide. The Emerson String Quartet championed them, and both Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman invited them to be quartet-in-residence at their summer festivals: the Young Artists Program at Canada’s National Arts Centre and The Perlman Music Program on Shelter Island, New York, respectively.

The Escher String Quartet took their name from the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher, having been inspired by his method of interplay between individual components that worked together to form a whole.