The Pavel Haas Quartet was founded in 2002 by the violinist Veronika Jarůšková and the violist Pavel Nikl, who was a member of the ensemble until 2016, when he left due to family reasons. Yet their collaboration has continued – Pavel Nikl has been the ensemble’s permanent guest for string quintet performances. Between 2004 and 2012, the second violin was played by Kateřina Gemrotová Penková, Marie Fuxová and Eva Karová Krestová. In 2016 and 2017, the viola was played by Radim Sedmidubský, in 2018 and 2019 by Jiří Kabát.
Following their victory in the Prague Spring Festival Competition and Premio Paolo Borciani in Reggio Emilia, Italy in 2005, the Pavel Haas Quartet soon established themselves as one of the world’s most exciting contemporary chamber ensembles. Performing at the most renowned concert venues around the globe, the PHQ have to date recorded eight critically acclaimed CDs, which have received numerous prestigious awards. The ensemble members studied with Milan Škampa, the legendary violist of the Smetana Quartet.
In 2007, the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) named the Pavel Haas Quartet one of its Rising Stars, following which they were afforded the opportunity to give numerous high-profile concert appearances all over the world. Between 2007 and 2009, the Pavel Haas Quartet held the title of BBC New Generation Artist. In 2010, the ensemble was granted a classical music fellowship from the Borletti–Buitoni Trust.
In autumn 2020, the Pavel Haas Quartet will appear as quests at the Merano Festival, Italy, at the St Wenceslas Music Festival in Ostrava, as well as at the Burg Taggenbrunn, Austria. In the beginning of October, they will be performing at the Rudolfinum in Prague at an evening held within the Czech Chamber Music Society concert series. The programme includes the world premiere of the Slovak composer Ľubica Čekovská’s Octet for two string quartets, commissioned by the Pavel Haas Quartet, who will be joined by Italy’s Quartetto di Cremona. Further the PHQ will give recitals at the Lednice-Valtice Music Festival and the Janáček Brno 2020 Festival. In late October and early November, the ensemble are scheduled to perform at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Wigmore Hall in London and Teatro della Pergola in Florence.
The Pavel Haas Quartet have exclusively recorded for Supraphon. Their very first album (2006), featuring Leoš Janáček’s String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Letters”, and Pavel Haas’s String Quartet No. 2, “From the Monkey Mountains”, earned the ensemble their first Gramophone Award. The Daily Telegraph named it CD of the Year. The second album, completing the mapping of Leoš Janáček’s and Pavel Haas’s quartet works, garnered enormous acclaim too. Gramophone wrote about it:
To describe a CD as musically important is to court a certain level of controversy ... but I'll stick my neck out and claim extreme importance for this release.
Their third album, featuring both Sergey Prokofiev quartets and the Sonata for Two Violins, won France’s Diapason d’Or de l’Année 2010. The fourth album, featuring Antonín Dvořák’s quartets in F major, the “American”, Op. 96, and in G major, Op. 106, received the 2011 Gramophone Award in the Chamber category, as well as the most coveted prize of all - Recording of the Year. The Sunday Times gave the album the highest possible rating:
Their account of the American Quartet belongs alongside the greatest performances on disc. In this repertoire, they are simply matchless today.
THE SUNDAY TIMES
In 2014, the Pavel Haas Quartet received yet another Gramophone Award, for the album of Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor, “Death and the Maiden”, and String Quintet, recorded with the German cellist Danjulo Ishizaka. Their following album, featuring Smetana’s String Quartets Nos 1 and 2 (2015), earned the ensemble their fifth Gramophone Award and second BBC Music Magazine Award. Gramophone emphasised that:
Their sound is, as ever, immediately recognisable – partly due to the sheer richness of timbre but also the sense of four personalities at play… At times it is hard to believe you are in the presence of only four players, so intense is the sound.
For their latest disc of Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and String Quintet No. 3 (2017) with Boris Giltburg and their former member Pavel Nikl they were awarded their sixth Gramophone Award. Gramophone wrote about that:
Another Pavel Haas Quartet disc, another triumph. They seem always immersed in all they play, both in terms of their rapport but their instinctive understanding of the score too.
Their latest recording of Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 2, 7 and 8 was released in October 2019.
The quartet bears the name of the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), the most talented pupil of Leoš Janáček, who in 1941 was imprisoned by the Nazis in the Terezín ghetto and three years later died in Auschwitz. Pavel Haas’s oeuvre includes three splendid string quartets.