In the Studio: Fine Arts Quartet records Enescu

November 03, 2022


The Fine Arts Quartet, along with pianists Fabio and Gisele Witkowski and bassist Alexander Bickard, just recorded rare, early chamber music by the celebrated Romanian composer George Enescu. The album will include a recording of Enescu’s superb, precocious Piano Quintet in D, written at the age of 15. Produced and engineered by multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Steven Epstein, this album is scheduled for release in August 2023, in time for the International Enescu Festival in September.

Left to right: Fabio Witkowski, Niklas Schmidt, Ralph Evans, Gisele Witkowski, Gil Sharon, Efim Boico, Alexander Bickard

The internationally renowned Fine Arts Quartet (violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Gil Sharon, cellist Niklas Schmidt), was founded in Chicago in 1946. This year, the quartet celebrates its 76th anniversary (and Ralph Evans’ 40th anniversary with the ensemble) and continues to live up to its reputation as “one of the gold-plated names in chamber music.” (Washington Post)

The ensemble made its first recording for Naxos in 2006. Featuring Robert Schumann’s 3 String Quartets, Op. 41, it received the American Record Guide’s Critics’ Choice Award and was described as “One of the very finest chamber music recordings of the year.” From that auspicious beginning, a happy association between artists and label has continued to produce a steady stream of acclaimed performances of eclectic chamber works. This recording will be the ensemble’s 20th on the Naxos label.

The recording sessions took place 23–25 October 2022 at the Kathryn M. Elfers Hall of the Esther Eastman Center at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, USA.

Album Programme:

ENESCU, George: Youthful Chamber Music Treasures 1896–1901
Piano Quintet (1896)*
Prélude and Gavotte for two pianos, violin and cello (1898)*
Aubade, (1899), Trio for violin, viola and cello
Pastorale, Menuet Triste et Nocturne (1900), for violin and piano, four hands
Romanian Rhapsody No.1 (1901) for piano quintet plus string bass (chamber version arranged by Jacques Enoch


Artists: Fine Arts Quartet / Fabio & Gisele Witkowski (pn) / Alexander Bickard (string bass)

Fine Arts Quartet Background & Discography