Brahms's implacable self-criticism was at its height in the domain of chamber music: he was already 40 when he produced this Second String Quartet (of three) after two decades of rejected attempts, which only makes its formal perfection and intense lyricism all the more striking. In the case of the Quintet Op.115, it was a meeting with the clarinettist Mühlfeld that inspired him to emerge from his self-imposed retirement to compose this almost unbearably nostalgic musical testament, five years before his death.
The Jerusalem Quartet was founded in 1993, and from 1999 to 2001 were BBC New Generation Artists; in 2003 it was the recipient of the first Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, currrently celebrating its tenth anniversary year. Now regular guests in the world’s leading concert halls, notably in the United States, the Jerusalems perform with such artists as Alexander Melnikov, Lawrence Power and Sharon Kam.
The quartet’s discography on harmonia mundi has won many international awards. Its interpretation of Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet won a Diapason d’Or of the Year in 2008 and an ECHO Klassik award in 2009, while its most recent release, Schumann’s Piano Quintet and Quartet, received distinctions from BBC Music Magazine, Scherzo and Télérama. The Quartet is very grateful to Daniel Barenboim who generously loans Jacqueline du Pré's ‘Sergio Perresson’ cello to Kyril Zlotnikov.
After her debut with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta at the age of 16, Sharon Kam was encouraged and mentored by Isaac Stern. She later graduated from the Juilliard School of Music, where she studied with Charles Neidich. Sharon Kam regularly collaborates with such colleagues as Heinrich Schiff, Christian Tetzlaff, Antje Weithaas, and Tabea Zimmermann. She often plays recitals with the pianist Lars Vogt and is a regular guest at his Spannungen festival in Heimbach, Germany, as well as other festivals like Verbier, Risør, Cork and Delft.