Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that: “… in addition to the clear structure of the music, what was remarkable was the beautiful musical tones and purity of intonation. Seldom does one experience such profound and effective sounding harmony… Great art.” The door to world recognition for the Bennewitz Quartet was opened with their victory at the prestigious international festivals in Osaka (2005) and at the Prémio Paolo Borciani in Italy (2008). They have also won awards on the domestic scene — the Czech Chamber Music Society Award 2004 and the Classic Prague Awards 2019. They have performed in the most prestigious halls across the world — Wigmore Hall in London, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Konzerthaus Berlin, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Frick Collection in New York and the Seoul Art Center. They have been guests at festivals in Salzburg and Lucerne, the Rheingau Musik Festival, Prague Spring and Dvořák’s Prague. They have worked with musicians including Vadim Gluzman, Jean Yves Thibaudet and Krzysztof Chorzelski. They are very imaginative in their projects — for Czech Television they recorded Leoš Janáček’s two string quartets in the unique space of the Villa Tugendhat. In one evening they performed all of Bartok’s six string quartets at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival and in Uppsala in Sweden. In January 2014 they performed the world premiere of Slavomír Hořinka’s Songs of Immigrants at the Konzerthaus in Berlin. At the moment they are preparing some new projects: they are to perform John Adams’s composition Absolute Jest with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and together with Peter Holtslag they will perform the world premiere of a composition for recorder and string quartet by the Dutch composer Willem Wander van Nieuwkerk at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The quartet has a long association with the publishers Coviello Classics (Janáček, Bartók, Smetana), they released a complete recording of Dvořák’s Cypresses for Hänssler Classic, and Antonín Dvořák’s String Quartets Op. 51 and 106 for SWR Music. This year they are making a recording of compositions for Supraphon by the so-called “Terezín composers” — Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krása, Erwin Schulhoff and Pavel Haas. Since 1998 the ensemble has taken the name of the violinist and director of the Prague Conservatory, Antonín Bennewitz (1833-1926), who contributed towards the creation of a Czech violin school. Apart from Otakar Ševčík and František Ondříček, his pupils also included Karel Hoffmann, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal, who went on to form the famous Czech Quartet.
Jan Brabec — clarinet
The clarinettist Jan Brabec graduated from the Conservatory in Teplice in Miroslav Maleček’s class and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under Vlastimil Mareš. During his studies he participated in numerous international master classes under the guidance of prominent figures such as Michel Arrignon, Michel Lethiec, Maurice Bourgue and Michel Raison. He won 1st prize in the wind instrument competition in Chomutov and was awarded a ‘Golden Diploma’ in the Music of Eastern Europe competition and the ‘City of Prague Award’ in the Prague Spring International Music Competition (1996). From 1997 he was a member of the PKF — Prague Philharmonia and from 2008 to 2014 he was principal clarinet in the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. Following a successful audition, he became a member of the Czech Philharmonic in 2014. He regularly collaborates with a number of chambre ensembles such as the PKF — Prague Philharmonia Wind Quintet, the Actaeon Trio, Prague Modern, the Baborak Ensemble, Czech Sinfonietta and others.