The Apollon Musagète Quartett was founded in 2006 by four Polish musicians: violinists Paweł Zalejski and Bartosz Zachłod, violist Piotr Szumieł and cellist Piotr Skweres. The four of them met in Vienna – a city where a vast part of the string quartet’s repertoire was written.
The members of the quartet, mostly graduates of the University of Music in Warsaw, continued their studies in chamber music under the tuition of world famous musicians from the Alban Berg Quartett. In 2006 they decided to start their own ensemble. They chose Apóllōn Mousēgétēs as their patron, the guide of muses, a god looking after art and mortals’ inspiration, and apart from that a character of one of Stravinsky’s ballets.
Their list of successes is long enough to warrant a separate article. They won ARD International Music Contest in Munich and were nominated for Rising Stars cycle and therefore toured all around the world. Between 2012and 2014 they were selected as part of BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, which made them perform even more, often in United Kingdom.
Our repertoire is very much varied. We play pieces from the early 16th century as well as compositions written especially for us. Our goal is to not get pigeon-holed – says Paweł Zajski (violinist).
Yet classical music is not the only thing they are up to. In 2011 Deutsche Grammophon released Night of the Hunters, an album that they recorded with Tori Amos. Each song is a variation on works by one of the most significant composers (e.g. Chopin, Bach, Debussy or Schubert).
Some listeners are just attracted by the fact that a pop singer is touring with string quartet, but it does happen elsewhere from time to time. What is really extraordinary about this project is that Apollon Musagète Quartett’s role is not limited to that of an accompaniment unit. Instead they are involved in creating musical landscapes exactly on the same basis as Tori herself – wrote Newsweek’s reporter Filip Łobodziński.
In their repertoire, there is a lot of room for Polish music. They even obey an unwritten rule that every single concert has to include at least one piece written by a Polish composer. What they love to play is music by authors such as: Karol Szymanowski, Fryderyk Chopin, Wacław z Szamotuł, Grażyna Bacewicz, Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki and… Apollon Musagete Quartet!
So far they have collaborated on two pieces: Multitude and A Multitude Of Shades. The initials of the latter spell out Tori Amos’ last name as it draws inspiration from their joint tour.
When you approach collective composing, you need to get engaged in a specific talk where using words is useless. The only way to express your ideas is to speak with sound of your instrument. We set up certain processes that are supposed to occur but it is the graph of the musical form which indicates moments of culmination and conflict. This graph remains a main road sign guiding us through the process. It is fun! – says Piotr Skweres, the cellist.
Their albums have been published by celebrated recording labels like Decca, Oehms and Neos.
Quartet’s website: http://www.apollon-musagete.com/
Author: Filip Lech, January 2014, translated by W.O. 16.01.2014