The 1st International Sándor Végh String Quartet Competition has ended
The final, prize giving ceremony was held in the Palace of Arts, Budapest. First Géza Szőcs, the the Secretary of State for Culture–born btw. like Sándor Végh, in Kolozsvár/Cluj–entered the stage and shared his appreciation of Sándor Végh with the audience. Mr Szőcs was also one of the greatest supporters of the whole Végh-centenary project. Then spoke Mrs Alja Végh-Batthyány, the daughter of Sándor Végh, who mentioned the gala concert as one of the best moments of her life.
András Keller, former student of Sándor Végh, artistic director and chairman of the jury said: the event was much more a fantastic concert-series than a competition that required performances from all the ages and styles of the string quartet repertoire from the participants. Also such rarely played works were on programme as the string quartets of Szervánszky, Lajtha, Ligeti or Kurtág, besides of Beethoven’s and Bartók’s quartets that were the bravour pieces of the repertoire of the Végh Quartet, too. Althought the jury did not give out 1st and 3rd prize, all the decisions were made in total concordance and the real winner of the competition was the genre of the string quartet itself.
The 2nd prize was awarded the BENYOUNES QUARTET (UK) and the KELEMEN KVARTETT (H). Both quartets received the full second prize, 12-12.000 euros.
Two special prizes were given out worthing both 6-6.000 Euros. For their outstanding Haydn performance the Belenusquartett (CH) received one and for their outstanding Lajtha performance the Cantabile Quartett (UK) received the other.
According to the public’s votes the public prize (1.000 EUR ) was awarded to the Kelemen Quartet.
Special prize of the Artisjus Music Foundation and the Akkord Music Publishers for the best performer of the competition’s compulsory piece (Péter Tornyai’s Moon-Zoom) and also the special prize of the French ProQuartet Association was awarded to the Benyounes Quartet.
Special prize of Fidelio Média Ltd., a media package worth of 500 000 HUF was offered to the best Hungarian competitor, the Kelemen Kvartett.
The József Károlyi Foundation’s concert invitation to the Hungarian Institute of Paris was offered to the Accord Quartet (H).
For the best Bartók interpretation the Liszt Academy of Music offered a concert invitation to the Benyounes Quartet, who was also awarded with an invitation to the 2013 Budapest Spring Festival.
For their outstanding interpretation of E. Szervánszky’s string quartet the Szervánszky Quartet (H) received the present offered by Thomastik-Infeld Vienna and the Budapest Music Center.
After the prize giving the audience could listen to the 7th String Quartet in the performance of the Cantabile Quartet, to Kurtág's 6 moments musicaux and to the first two movements of Schumann's A-major string quartet from the Kelemen Quartet. The Benyounes Quartet played the 2nd String Quartet of Béla Bartók.
The Kelemen Quartet was established in the year 2009 and soon became one of Hungary's leading young string quartets. During the first year of workshop activities they have played at private lessons for artists such as Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet), Ferenc Rados, Zoltán Kocsis, András Schiff, Gábor Takács-Nagy and András Keller among others.
The Kelemen Quartet has recently released it's first debut DVD and is about to record their debut CD in 2010.
The string quartet has toured in Switzerland – Germany – Italy – Croatia and played at several festivals throughout Hungary with musicians such as Joshua Bell, Joseph Lendvay, Pekka Kuusisto etc. In the year 2011 the quartet will have it’s debut North American tour with stations at New York, Dallas and Indianapolis among other cities.
The Kelemen Kvartett (H) playing Schumann
Barnabás Kelemen (Kelemen Kvartett): “To play in front of a Hungarian public was like a light and healthy pressure for our quartet. But the majority of jury members were not Hungarian, so I don’t think that this domestic venues were a real favour… However our international competition (China, Australia) routine was very important. As for the competition program, I have to admit that it was of a great difficulty, but so it was like a challenge. In the most cases one piece is required in each competition round. Here we had to prepare two works that for the final round consist of a Bartók quartet and one of Beethoven’s last works. Last but not least the high level is showed by the compulsory piece of the competition, too.
The competition has approached in a lucky manner Sándor Végh’s personality to the quartet members. While preparing Adagio and Fugue by Mozart we have found an outstanding recording of the Végh Quartet that influenced our performance a lot. As well as the Végh monograph by Dániel Löwenberg that was released for the centenary. Me and Kati Kokas we had the opportunity to know personally Mr Végh. He was a fantastic musician; it was a great honour for us to participate at the competition dedicated to his memory.”
The members of the Benyounes Quartet hail from England, Wales and Ireland and are united by their love of chamber music. They met at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2007, where they were recipients of major prizes for string quartet. The quartet continued studies at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève with Professor Gábor Takács-Nagy.
The Benyounes Quartet has studied on the ProQuartet-CEMC program in Paris, which offered the opportunity to work with Eberhard Feltz and members of the Alban Berg quartet. They have participated in masterclasses with György Kurtag, Ferenc Rados, András Keller, David Waterman and Christoph Richter.
The quartet continues to broaden its repertoire by initiating collaborative chamber music and cross-arts projects, and has recently founded Quercus Ensemble, a mixed chamber music group based in Northern Ireland.
Zara Benyounes (Benyounes Quartet): “Being here and gaining a prize to the competition means a lot for us. We hope that the Sándor Végh Competition will be an important step of our international career. Although the competition was very long and weary, all conditions were given that we could make our best. That we got, as I feel.”
The Benyounes Quartet (UK) playing Debussy:
David Sloan (Cantabile String Quartet): “The two 2nd prize awarded quartets had a very good performance in each round, so I think they deserve their success. Nevertheless the prize we have got for our Lajtha performance is a huge honour for Cantabile. The program that consists of the most difficult pieces of the quartet literature was almost entirely new for our ensemble, so preparing it was itself a great challenge. But it worth the effort, we learned a lot, and we had a royal time during the competition, the organizers worked very well. If we could, we will participate to the next Végh competition, too.”
The Cantabile String Quartet (UK) plays Lajtha’s 7th s. q.
At the final round and the prize-winners’ gala were present the representatives of the following concert agencies and venues: Konzerthaus Wien, Salzburg Mozarteum, Goette Konzertdirektion Hamburg, ResiaArts, Concerts du Louvre, Cervo Chamber Music Festival, Tournai String Quartet Festival, Association ProQuartet France, Nemzeti Filharmónia Kht.
Concert invitations were offered to the Benyounes Quartet and the Kelemen Kvartett.