Breaking: Top international quartet breaks up

The Berlin-based Artemis Quartet has split down the middle, with two members leaving next May and the other two trying to find new partners to keep the group alive.

The departing players are the founder cellist Eckart Runge and the violinist Anthea Kreston.

No reason is given for their departure in the press release below and there is no quote from Anthea, whose weekly diary is a popular feature on Slipped Disc.

Anthea was imported from the US in 2016 after the traumatic suicide of Friedemann Weigle.

All four players have signed non-disclosure agreements.

UPDATE: When a string quartet breaks down.

The Artemis have been one of the most sought-after and energetic quartets on the world circuit. The two remaining players get to keep the brand name.

Here’s the press release, with lots of positive spin covering up a very painful split:

Berlin, 4th September 2018 – The thirtieth anniversary of the Artemis Quartet in 2019 will see
two new members joining the ensemble. Founding member Eckart Runge is leaving the Artemis
Quartet after the current constellation’s final concerts together in May 2019, in order to devote
more time to his own artistic projects and to his family. “I have enjoyed the privilege of being
able to work and perform with many wonderful colleagues and partners, of being able to share
the unique quartet repertoire with them and with our audiences over a very long time during my
life as a musician – and for that I am deeply grateful,” explains Eckart Runge regarding his
decision at the end of summer 2018.
Shortly after Runge announced his decision within the quartet, violinist Anthea Kreston also
decided to depart.
The Artemis Quartet accepts the challenge; successors for the positions of second violin and
cello will be announced later this autumn.
The Artemis Quartet has already undergone a number of musical transitions over the last ten
years: in 2007, founding members Heime Müller and Volker Jacobsen departed and were
replaced by Gregor Sigl and Friedemann Weigle. In 2012, first violinist Natalia Prishepenko left
the quartet, succeeded by Vineta Sareika. The most recent change was Anthea Kreston’s arrival
in 2016, after the death of Friedemann Weigle.
The quartet’s eventful history shows that a group is more than a combination of individuals –
particularly in chamber music. In the words of violist Gregor Sigl: “the Artemis Quartet is the
sum of all its members, including those from the past and future.”

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • Esther Cavett says:

    This is sad. I saw them play at the Wigmore and have been an avid reader of AC’s blogs here

  • Sonia Simmenauer says:

    Norman,
    this is unnecessary destructive.
    You may have caught a difficult evening at the Wigmore Hall, why speculate the end of the quartet out of this?
    Please do quote the facts correctly. The Quartet has not yet split. Yes two members will leave at the end of the season and no, the two new members have not yet been announced. The Artemis Quartet is taking the full risk of letting the World participate to their renewing. This is different then the usual, they should be thanked for this, not punished.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Destructive, Sonia?
      I had no hand in breaking up the quartet. I report only what I saw.

      • Andrew R. Barnard says:

        Yes, destructive, if Sonia is referring to your second post which was distressingly negative.

      • steven holloway says:

        Sonia is surely respnding to your second post on this subject. You did not “report only” what you saw. What you saw was simply four musicians collecting themselves in whatever ways they choose during the crucial intermission of a concert. What you ‘reported’ was what you chose to read into what you saw. Among the oddities contained in your intermission visit (astonishing lack of consideration there) and your second post is that in March you posted an interview with the quartet, and in that video they seemed four very happy campers. I should have taken my lead from that. I find it hard to believe that twixt then and now they turned into a replica of the Quartetto Italiano in its last years. AK certainly doesn’t seem to see it that way.

        • Fritz Bruhns says:

          First of all, Artemis came out of any of the previous skinnings as a different quartet, but always at the same level of excellence and brightness, and always kept evolving, i.e. still improving in their case. I fully trust Vineta’s and Gregor’s experience and judgement to find the right successors, just as they were at their times, respectively. Of course it’s sad in a way for us as the audience, I have loved them from my first encounter and throughout the metamorphoses. But after 30 years, who could really blame Ecki to go for soemthing different? This is more than understandable, it requires courage, as every change does, and as Sonia writes, it’s an exceptional courtesy to the public to let us know upfront. Let’s all enjoy the many months in their current setup without bearing a grudge, they would not deserve this. All the best to all four of them!

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Four minus two sure sounds like a split.

    Just out of curiosity… has there ever been a prominent quartet that lost three members and then the one remaining member kept the name and re-formed it?

    • Christopher Culver says:

      “Just out of curiosity… has there ever been a prominent quartet that lost three members and then the one remaining member kept the name and re-formed it?”

      The Arditti Quartet was completely reformed in the early millennium, with only lead violinist Irvine Arditti staying on.

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Many quartets have had replacements in their lifetimes – in fact, seldom has a quartet survived its entire life without replacing one or two members EXCEPT, of course, the famous Amadeus Quartet…. (The Amadeus was in a league of its own; like Heifetz, Horowitz, Piatigorsky, Kleiber, Sokolov, Gould, the Guarneri Quartet, the Cleveland Quartet…. ) The Artemis is not breaking up – it is simply hiring two new members.

  • Vlad says:

    So, the violinist was IMPORTED from US?!

    I hope to hear them before the cellist leaves, they are one of the best quartets! Sad news.

  • Sharon says:

    Like anybody leaving any job there are a thousand reasons that an individual might leave a quartet that has nothing to do with getting along with one’s colleagues. For ex, Anthea might need to be home more with the kids because of her husband’s job obligations.

    As far as interviewing the quartet during the intermission is concerned, I attend a lot of off-off Broadway theater and I hesitate to talk to a performer even AFTER the performance and even if, as is the custom in some theaters, the performers make themselves available to the audience. I believe that the performers need to decompress or destress from the performance as I sometimes do. I assume it is the same for musicians, especially soloists or people in a quartet or ensemble.

    It never ceases to amaze me that great performers, where the performance does not sound at all acted, can immediately, within 15 minutes of the closing curtain, be in their jeans and walk out of the theater as their real selves. Meanwhile, I, a member of the audience, is still in the play!

    In a TV interview I saw many years ago the pop singer Barry Manilow was asked how can he not cry while singing his own songs which he sang so movingly. He said “practice”. I guess it is just practice that enables the professional musician to get beyond technique and infuse genuine emotion into the playing

  • >