Biography

Mihaela Martin (violin), Daniel Austrich (violin), Nobuko Imai (viola), Frans Helmerson (cello)

The Michelangelo String Quartet was formed in 2002 by four interpreters distinguished worldwide as soloists, chamber musicians and teachers who share an irresistible desire to play together the string quartet repertoire. Since their first concert season, they have toured regularly in Japan, the UK, Scandinavia, Italy, Korea and Benelux, giving concerts in major halls such as the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Théâtre des Champs Elysées (Paris), Tonhalle (Zürich) and London’s Wigmore Hall. Festival appearances in the last two years have included Edinburgh, Geneva, Manchester, Prades and Stockholm, and everywhere the ensemble has received rave reviews. Music critics have unanimously praised the quartet for the collective virtuosity and experience of its members, as well as their musicality and intensity of feeling thus ranking the ensemble as one of the most interesting on the current musical scene. They have recently embarked on a project to play the complete Beethoven Quartets in Perth, Scotland.

Romanian violinist Mihaela Martin has continued, through her teacher Stefan Gheorghiu, a violinistic line including David Oistrakh and George Enescu. Awarded at the Tchaikovsky Competition, she received the first prize at the Indianapolis International Violin Competition thus ensuring her international career. Her chamber music partners have included Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Nobuko Imai, Leon Fleischer and Menahim Pressler. She is a professor at the Musikhochschule, Cologne.

Born in St. Petersburg, Daniel Austrich has distinguished himself by winning the Paganini Competition in Moscow and currently is one of the most eminent Russian musicians of his generation. He studied in Cologne with Viktor Tretyakov and also won the Beethoven Competition in Austria as well as the Sarasate Competition in Spain. Mr Austrich has performed with many important orchestras - Thonalle in Zürich and Düsseldorf, Jena Philarmonic – and at numerous international festivals (Davos, Ottawa, Schleswig Holstein, Usedom) with partners such as David Geringas, Julian Steckel, Itzhak Perlman.

Former Vermeer Quartet member, Japanese-born Nobuko Imai is considered one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. After studying at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, Yale University and the Julliard School, she won the first prize at the Munich and Geneva International Competitions. Distinguished chamber music collaborators include Gidon Kremer, Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Andras Schiff and Ronald Brautigam. She holds professorships at the Amsterdam and Geneva Conservatory.

During the 1970's Frans Helmerson was principal cellist of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sergiu Celibidache. After studying with William Pleeth and Rostropovich, he won the first prize at the Cassadò International Competition as well as in Geneva and Munich. An extremely versatile cellist, he combines his love of chamber music with a career as soloist and conductor.  He holds a professorship at the Musikhochschule in Cologne.

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Reviews

"The Michelangelos are one of the great string quartets of the era…(their) playing was out of this world, with structural and dynamic organization, alongside ensemble coordination, mesmerising in perspicacity and emotional depth."

"their virtuosity and experience showed throughout…. playing of fire, luminosity and purity…There are clearly no limitations in the symphaties of this brilliant ensemble"

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