Debussy – Ravel – Attahir: String Quartets

The string quartets of Debussy and Ravel, composed within a decade of each other, make a natural pairing. The Arod Quartet, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, sets these two belle époque masterpieces in a present-day context with a third work: Al Asr, by the young French composer Benjamin Attahir. The scope of this Erato release is further expanded with a DVD documentary directed by Bruno Monsaingeon – celebrated for his profiles of musicians ranging from Yehudi Menuhin, Glenn Gould and Nadia Boulanger to the Alban Berg Quartet, Piotr Anderszewski and David Fray. It is called Ménage à quatre, and, as Monsaingeon says, “explores the secret of the harmonious life of a string quartet”. In addition to the entire third movement of Debussy’s string quartet, the documentary features music by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, Ravel and György Kurtág Now in his late nineties, Kurtág also makes an appearance in the film.

Claude Debussy : String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10 Quatuor à cordes en sol mineur, opus 10
Benjamin Attahir : Al’ Asr
Maurice Ravel : String Quartet in F Major

2020 © Erato Warner Classics


So, what is this “Arod”? A forgotten composer, a mythical city, a mysterious acrostic? Why not, indeed. In fact, Le Quatuor Arod chose as their tutelary figure a knight imagined by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. A symbol of strength and ardour (his name means “agile, swift”), he also embodied a spirit of freedom and companionship given that the elf Legolas provided him with a bareback horse, without reins.

This community of the bow was born in 2013 at the Conservatoire de Paris. All the members of the quartet studied there, benefiting in particularfrom the teaching of Jean Sulem. Starting out as a group of students, burning to get their fingers onthe finest pages of therepertoire, the ensemble chose as their first outingthe FNAPEC competition, which has crowned such great string quartets as the Modigliani and Ysaÿe. The Quatuor Arod won the first prize there (2014), which for them opened the doors of the ProQuartet residency–the European Centre for Chamber Music.

After working at the Conservatoire with the Quatuor Ébène, then very regularly with the Quatuor Artemis at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Élisabeth in Brussels, the quartet took up a residency at the Fondation Singer-Polignac then gave itself a new, ambitious challenge with the Carl Nielsen International Chamber Music Competitionin 2015. To prepare as best as they could, they turned to the person who was to become their real mentor: Mathieu Herzog, the violist of the Quatuor Ébène, now a conductor. With him, they refined their technique and their musicality, but also learned how better to cope with a constantly shared daily life.  This competitor, which they entered with both serenity and pleasure, remains one of the greatest memories of Arod, because they won the First Prize as well as twoPerformance Prizes.

When the quartet decided to take on the Everest of competitions, the ARD in Munich, quite naturally Mathieu Herzog was there to give them a fillip. This work and this daring paid off because they won the First Prize, a supreme accolade which has been awarded only seven times since 1959 and their victory in 2016. Now at the stately age of three, they were following in the footsteps of such previous masterful winners as the Tokyo, Artemis and Ébène quartets.

Pushed into the limelight by this exploit, the Quatuor Arod was made the BBC New Generation Artist from 2017 to 2019 and the ECHO Rising Star for the 2018-2019 season, before continuingtheir glittering career. Just five years after their first harmonies in a rehearsal roomat the Conservatoire, they are sought for across the five continents and in the most prestigious concert halls: the Philharmonie de Paris, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Berliner Philharmonie, the ElbPhilharmonie of Hamburg, the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, Bozar in Brussels, the Oji Hall in Tokyo and none other than Carnegie Hall in New York for their first tour of the USA.

From Gramophone to Le Monde without forgetting The Strad and Diapason, critics have alsohailed the rare energy of the Quatuor Arod in concert as well as the quality of their recordings, the first of which was devoted to Mendelssohn, and the second created like a musical kaleidoscope centred around Mathilde Zemlinsky; the third, devoted to Schubert, and the last devoted to French music : Debussy, Ravel, Attahir.

In 2023 is also released a documentary about their life “Ménage à Quatre” by the iconic Burno Monsaingeon, which depicts a funny and intimist portrait of the Arod.

The quarter also enjoys working with such artists as Elsa Dreisig, Adam Laloum, Antoine Tamestit, Alexandre Tharaud and Camille Thomas. More than just being performers, they are also driving on the music of tomorrow: in 2017, they premiered Al Asr, Benjamin Attahir’s first string quartet, commissioned by La Belle Saison and ProQuartet.

1st violin – Jordan VICTORIA (Violin by Francesco Goffriller)
2nd violin – Alexandre VU (Violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini)
Viola – Tanguy PARISOT (Composite viola Carlo Ferdinando Landolphi, Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza – 1775)
Cello – Jérémy GARBARG (Cello by Giovanni Battista Ruggieri  – circa 1700)


Download the official biography

Jordan Victoria

If you were to recommend a quartet in a particular version?

Beethoven String quartet Opus 59 No. 1 Third movement by the Lindsay Quartet

Alexandre Vu

If you were to recommend a quartet in a particular version?

Beethoven String quartet Opus 135 No. 16 Third movement by the Hagen Quartet

Tanguy Parisot

If you were to recommend a quartet in a particular version?

Beethoven String quartet Opus 18 No. 1 Second movement by the Artémis Quartet

Jérémy Garbarg

If you were to recommend a quartet in a particular version?

Beethoven String Quartet Op. 132 by the Quatuor Ebène, as much for the musical acomplishment  as the dimension of the project.