Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone Volume 87 Number 1054

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The Pavel Haas

Some three and half years ago, in one of my first issues as editor, we blazed a headline, “The most exciting age ever for string quartets.” It caught readers’ imagination – it was the highest-selling edition that year aside from our Awards issue. Now, in 2010, it is clear that some of the new generation of string quartets, who were only then beginning to emerge, have pulled ahead of their rivals. None more so than the Pavel Haas Quartet.

The spotlight may currently be on France’s Ebène, who won our Recording of the Year prize recently in a surprise result (given that they were little-known and up against some much bigger names), but still our money is currently on the Czech foursome. Consider – the Pavel Haas won a Gramophone Award with their debut disc and were nominated the very next year for the follow-up (and came within a whisker of making the double). The Ebène’s successor to their own prize-winner was, according to our reviewer, a touch disappointing. Which is not to say that the Frenchmen aren’t worth watching closely and this issue we identify four “other” young quartets, including the Ebène, to keep an ear out for.

But the Pavel Haaas are special indeed and so, as they return after an enforced absence during which they changed a group member (for the second time!) I wanted to find out more about them. What is this special alchemy that seems to ensure, despite the personnel changes, that they hit gold every time? Taking advantage of their international touring schedule, David Patrick Stearns, the eminent music critic of the Philadephia Enquirer and a frequenter of these pages, was dispatched to catch up with them in his home town and find out what lends such power to their bows. As for the review of their new Prokofiev album, you’ll have to wait until next issue. (I haven’t heard it yet but, personally, I can’t wait!)

Editor-in-chief James Jolly and I have also put pen to paper to come up with a look back at the past decade in classical music. Identifying the 10 areas that have shaped the music world’s course over these years has been a fascinating and revealing process. It occured to us that not since the 1950s with the dawn of the jet age and the jump from 78s to LPs, and then from mono to stereo, has there been such a ground-shifting period. It’s incredible how much has changed, how recently and how quickly. But some things of course stay the same – there’s yet another great new recording from Bernard Haitink!


Gramophone critic, composer and musicologist FABRICE FITCH takes on the search for the finest recording of Tallis’s Spem in alium. He specialises in both early and contemporary music and teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music.

DAVID PATRICK STEARNS is classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Enquirer. He was delighted finally to interview the Pavel Haas Quartet, having recently reviewed one of their concerts as “a peak experience”.

CHARLOTTE GARDNER is one of the few former radio newshounds (for BBC Radio Four’s Today programme among others) with a music degree. This issue she turns her gaze on the UK government’s much-hyped music education schemes.

The February issue of Gramophone is on sale from January 11 (UK); the March issue will be on sale from February 8 (UK). Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of statements in this magazine but we cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions, or for matters arising from clerical or printers’ errors, or an advertiser not completing his contract. Letters to the Editor requiring a personal reply should be accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope. We have made every effort to secure permission to use copyright material. Where material has been used inadvertently or we have been unable to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made in a future issue. Printed in England by Wyndeham Heron. ISSN 0017-310X. © 2010 haymarket consumer. All rights reserved North American edition: Gramophone (USPS 881080) is published 13 times a year by Haymarket Magazines Ltd, c/o Mercury International Ltd of 365 Blair Road, Avenel, New Jersey 07001. For North American subscription rates please contact: Tel: 1-866-918-1446, Email: Periodicals paid at Rahway, NJ. Postmaster please send address correction changes to Gramophone, c/o Mercury International at above address.

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