When an international string quartet breaks down

When an international string quartet breaks down


norman lebrecht

September 04, 2018

Seven months I went backstage in the interval of Wigmore Hall concert to say hello to the Artemis Quartet.

I have never known a colder green room. It was mid-February and the heating was full on, but the atmosphere was frigid.

The four players were ranged two on either side of the room. There was no conversation. They were looking at their phones, or t the walls. You did not need to be Sigmund Freud to recognise that this was a group in an advanced stage of human disarray.

On stage that night, the playing was outstanding: energetic, engaged, challenging. Backstage, it was a frost.

So today’s news that the quartet is breaking up comes as no surprise. It must be a relief to the players.

Fifty-fifty splits are rare in string quartets. Usually it’s one member who leaves, or all four who decide to call it quits. With the Artemis, clearly, it has been a breach down the middle that they were unable to address, let alone repair.

Let’s hope they remember the happy times.




  • John Rook says:

    That’s quite a claim.

  • erich says:

    I’m rather surprised that after your many years in business, you didn’ t know that the interval is not the time to go backstage! Artists have other matters on their minds than having to cope with journalists!

  • Philippa Ballard says:

    Really, you should have gone to say hello afterwards

  • Deborah Mawer says:

    Rather tactless given that Anthea K is one of SD’s most distinguished contributors

  • Honey says:

    Never go to speak to musicians in the interval! Especially in a wigmore… it’s a real intrusion… and then to write like this about it is tawdry… No doubt all the players have been struggling with this decision and none of them have taken it lightly. They are/were an amazing Quartet and incredible musicians who have been through a lot to have made it this far… its quite disrespectful that you would think an article like this would be well received… I just hope that all of them will go on to great things in their post Quartet careers.

  • jeremy sams says:

    Just listening to their Schubert G major….Simply stunning. Our loss….

  • Anthea Kreston says:

    Hello all,
    Anthea here. All is well – we just got out of a 4 hour rehearsal – working on Bartok and the magnificent Brahms 51/2. We are excited for the season ahead, and we all wish each other great happiness and success on the road ahead. The Artemis will continue with two new members, and you can be sure that I will come to the concerts as their #1 fan, as I have been for over 20 years. Go Artemis!!!! I hope to see you there!

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    I sometimes find it difficult to tell the difference between this blog and Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

    Am I alone in this?

  • Felix Ang says:

    I couldn’t help but wonder about this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus

  • Robert Holmén says:

    They see each other for hours at a time outside the concert hall.

    What could they possibly have to catch up with each other during intermission?

    • Scotty says:

      That’s one way to think. Personally, at the break I like, and sometimes need, quiet time.

    • Saxons Broken says:

      Being left to quietly think about how to perform the next piece during the interval, I would have thought, it the best way to spend the interval. I know when I am just about to perform in public, the last thing I want is to chat to people, I need a few quiet moments.

  • Martin says:

    Normal Lebrecht, you are a are a disgrace to your profession. Shame on you!

  • Fan says:

    Am I the only person to wonder why SD has had me reading fey effusions from Anthea Kreston month after month, when she could have been reporting rather more serious business?

  • Geoff Cox says:

    From my friendships with musicians I would know to never think of going to the green room in the interval.

  • Peter says:

    This post is yet another manifestation of the author’s penchant for self-aggrandisement. The only new information it reveals is that he is so self-important and rash that he thinks nothing of barging into a green room halfway through a performance.

    As the comments above mine show, this hatchet job is fooling nobody.

    • Different Peter says:

      Interesting interpretation of the situation walk in to green room during concert interval, icy cold reception, no one speaks, conclusion: theis must be directed at each other.