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Fresh faces

Katie Coakley
Daily Correspondent
Award-winning Austrian quartet, Minetti Quartett, performs at the Vilar Center Wednesday.

If you go ...

Who: Minetti Quartett.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Cost: Tickets are $35

More information: 888-920-ARTS(2787) or

BEAVER CREEK — If the idea of a classical string quartet brings to mind an image of performers of a certain age, grinding out the same old, same old, then the upcoming performance of the Minetti Quartett in Beaver Creek will be a shocker.

The Minetti Quartett consists of Maria Ehmer and Anna Knopp on violin, Milan Milojicic on viola and Leonhard Roczek on cello — four musicians who are deceptively young but have been hailed as the next big thing out of Austria. The group, which takes its name from a play by Austrian dramatist Thomas Bernhard, has been lauded for its fresh approach to classical music and the supremely balanced sound that it achieves.

Since its inception in 2003, the Minetti Quartett has played at some of the premier venues in the world, including London’s Wigmore Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. The group has also won prizes at numerous competitions, including first prize at the International Rimbotti String Quartet competition in Florence, the Haydn Prize at the International Haydn Competition in Vienna and the top award at the International Schubert Competition in Graz.

We caught up with Anna Knopp, one of the founding members of the Minetti Quartett, before she left Austria. The group performed in Vienna on Sunday and is now en route to the United States.

Vail Daily: How did you first start playing together as the Minetti Quartett?

Anna Knopp: During our solo instrumental studies at the university for music in Vienna, we had to do chamber music classes as part of our masters. It was supposed to last only a few semesters, but we soon realized that we fit together quite well and we all love the string quartet repertoire. We were lucky to have wonderful teachers who supported us very much and also encouraged us to work and play together with enthusiasm, discipline and joy. So we decided to stay together. Our first own full evening program concert was in January 2003. Last season we celebrated our 10th birthday.

VD: I see that you’re releasing a new CD of Beethoven string quartets soon. Is there a composer that you prefer to play above others? Why?

AK: We are very lucky as string quartet players that so many composers have written so much amazing, wonderful music! We really have a big variety of masterpieces and composers to choose to be our favorites. So it is very hard to pick up only one or a few. Our debut album was dedicated to Haydn, followed by early string quartets by Mendelssohn. Then we recorded clarinet quintets by Mozart, Brahms and a new composer who wrote us a special piece. Then it just happened that we played a lot of Beethoven, so we wanted to start to record some of them as well. I think every member of the quartet has some special preferences at a time, but in common we often like most of those pieces we currently play, because we try to choose programs we really want to play! Schubert and Dvorak belong to my favorites as well.

VD: Have you performed in Beaver Creek before?

AK: No, but we are very excited to play here because we know the mountains here — of course, from TV — while watching downhill races. Austrians are quite crazy about skiing.

VD: What can the audience expect from your performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center?

AK: They can expect four young musicians from Europe who love to play wonderful music. We try our best to bring our enthusiasm also to the audience so that they can realize that there have been some really genius composers before our time. Their compositions are great gifts for now and the future.

The three quartets in the program are quite different from one another, creating a diverse performance. The Minetti Quartett will perform Beethoven’s “string quartet in G Major Op.18/2”; Arvo Part’s “Fratres” for string quartet and Mendelssohn’s “string quartet in e minor Op.44/2.”

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