Wihan Quartet

The Wihan Quartet has established a reputation both for its incisive interpretations of Czech repertory and the quartets of Beethoven. Indeed, it has achieved broad international acclaim for performances of the quartets of Dvorák, Smetana, and Janácek, as well as those of contemporary Czech composers like Lubos Krticka and Jirí Pauer. But no single composer has so strongly captured its devotion as Beethoven: the Wihan players have performed the entire cycle of his quartets in concert several times and recorded all 16 for the Nimbus label. But the group's repertory is hardly limited to Beethoven and the Czechs: they regularly play works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel, Schoenberg, and many contemporaries. Recordings have appeared on the Nimbus label (including a DVD featuring several concerts of Beethoven quartets) and Arco Diva.

The Wihan Quartet was formed in 1985 by Ales Kasprík, the ensemble's cellist. He engaged Leos Cepický (first violin), Jan Schulmeister (second violin), and Jirí Zigmund (viola) to serve as the other three members. At the time of the formation, only Kasprík (b. 1962) and Schulmeister (b. 1964) had reached adulthood. The group cultivated its style and technique under the mentorship of Antonin Kohout, longtime cellist of the Smetana Quartet. In 2014, Zigmund decided to take a personal sabbatical; Jakub Cepický, Leos' son, filled his position.

The Wihan Quartet captured first prize at the 1991 London International String Quartet Competition and won other notable competitions in its early years, including the Prague Spring Festival and Osaka Chamber Music Competition & Festa.

From around the time of a competition victory in London, the ensemble frequently began concertizing in the U.K. It eventually became the quartet-in-residence at London's Trinity College of Music and still holds that title. The group has also taught quartet playing at Pro Corda, Leiston Abbey, Suffolk.

In 2000 the group's first recordings appeared: the D minor String Quartet, Intermezzo, and Italian Serenade of Hugo Wolf, and the Schoenberg quartet and Pfitzner Second Quartet, both issued on the Arco Diva label. The two recordings were critically acclaimed, the Wolf disc receiving a Diapason Award.

Throughout the early years of the new century the Wihan Quartet was active in Czechoslovakia and throughout Europe, but increasingly so in England, not least because of its quartet-in-residence status at Trinity College. From October 2007 to March 2008, the Wihan Quartet appeared in a series of concerts in Prague performing all the Beethoven quartets. Nimbus Records recorded those concerts and drew its acclaimed Beethoven quartet series from them.

  • ORIGIN
    Prague, Czech Republic
  • GENRE
    Classical
  • FORMED
    1985

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