Bruno Monsaingeon's camera is the appropriate instrument for capturing the "inside story" of the life of a string quartet. A violinist himself, Monsaingeon, knows the secrets of this very special type of musical formation which has been at the inception of the greatest musical masterpieces.
Before dedicating a documentary to them in 2001, the filmmaker had already discovered this exceptional quartet of German musicians. They featured in the film he made on the Alban Berg Quartet in 1996, with whom the young Artemis quartet studied for a year in Vienna. Before, they had studied at the Lubeck Conservatory where they met and where they founded the quartet in 1989. Professional since 1994, they immediately reached the summit of their art. "There are many good string quartets in the world, but the Artemis Quartet is the best among the excellent ones... From Beethoven to Ligeti, the volume, clarity and dramatic quality of their interpretations are unsurpassable," wrote the music critic for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. To this compliment nothing need be added: it is simply true.
These are the outstanding personalities that Monsaingeon brings to us as they work on Beethoven's Grand Fugue, Op.133. The violinists Natalia Prischepenko and Heime Müller, the viola player Volker Jacobsen and the cellist Eckart Runge reveal to us their uncommon rigour, astounding spontaneity and youthful enthusiasm.
"A quartet is like a marriage, but four times harder," confides one of them. But above all they contracted their marriage with music. Their rendition of Beethoven's Grand Fugue filmed in April 2001 at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris is proof of this.
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