Komitas Quartet is one of the most significant groups in the contemporary
performance world. Only a few chamber ensembles have managed to
exist so long and, moreover, to preserve their artistic originality.
The Komitas Quartet, which will soon be celebrating 80 years of
activities, is one of those rare ensembles.
The Quartet was established late in 1924 under the initiative
of four Armenian students at the Moscow Conservatory: Avet Gabrielian
(1st violin), Levon Ohanjanian (2nd violin), Mikhail Terian (viola),
and Sergey Aslamazian (cello), with the manager E. Guzikov. From
the very first months of its establishment, the so-called "quartet
of advanced students of the Moscow Conservatory" was the
center of attention for both the audience and music specialists.
"This young quartet will take a leading position very soon."
These words of M. Ippolitov-Ivanov, a distinguished Russian composer,
soon came true. The quartet advanced day by day, gradually gaining
recognition amongst their audiences. In 1932, the government of
Armenia awarded the name Komitas to the quartet.
The Komitas Quartet made incredible progress in a short amount
of time. It was the winner of the competition held by the Composers'
Union of the USSR (1936) and shared the First Prize with the Bolshoi
Theater Quartet at the All-Union Quartet Competition. From the
early period of its activity, the Komitas Quartet actively promoted
quartet music by various composers. The repertoire of the Komitas
Quartet is very rich and includes some great examples of Western
and Russian classical music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann,
Schubert, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Ravel, Debussy, Borodin, Tchaikovsky,
Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and others. The Komitas Quartet also
gave the first performances of many works for string quartet.
Through its close connection to the musical world of native Armenians,
the Komitas Quartet inspired the birth of this "new"
field for Armenian music; its activity promoted the development
of Armenian quartet music. In addition to compositions by Aro
Stepanian, Edgar Oganessian, Alexander Arutunian, Edward Mirzoyan,
and others, arrangements of Komitas' songs are an inseparable
part of the repertoire of the Komitas Quartet. The composer of
these wonderful quartet arrangements is Sergey Aslamazian, the
co-founder and cellist of the Komitas Quartet. By the way, he
also arranged Handel's Passacaglia, Paganini's 24 caprices and
Grieg's Solvejg's Song. Thanks to Aslamazian's arrangements of
Komitas' songs, foreign listeners had the opportunity to become
acquainted with Armenian music and to find out that "Armenians
also have their own music". The Komitas Quartet has frequently
performed with world-famous musicians, including Gilels, Richter,
Shostakovich, Merzhanov, Perlman, and others.
Throughout the 80 years of its existence, the Komitas Quartet
has toured in various countries of the world, including Germany,
the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Japan, Canada, the
USA, etc., all with considerable success. "...Each of the
performers is a virtuoso. Vienna has not heard such an ensemble
for ages; the audience has very clearly realized that no local
string quartet could approach the level and glory of Komitas Quartet."
These words belong to one of the listeners of a Vienna concert.
After hearing the Komitas Quartet's performance in the USA, one
music critic wrote, "Four musicians of one of the Soviet
republics seem to have charmed the audience... The Armenians really
play well!" The performance of each of the Komitas Quartet's
members was always distinguished by an original style; nonetheless,
the four musicians are inseparably connected to each other and
supplement each other to build an integral quartet. In performance,
the individual principles become collective ones and vice versa.
Though the Komitas Quartet naturally consisted of different musicians
throughout the years of its history, their performances were always
marked by a high caliber of professionalism and sense of tact.
The Komitas Quartet is never keen on flash effects; it plays skillfully,
but with inner warmth.
"The Komitas Quartet is one of the most important achievements
in the Armenian performing arts and Armenians are rightfully proud
of it. Its concerts are always GREAT MUSIC - from the first sounds
to the last..." (Edward Mirzoyan)