The Ehnes Quartet, comprised of James Ehnes, Amy Schwartz Moretti, Richard O’Neill, and Edward Arron, say that "you couldn't find four closer friends."
Despite only being formally established in 2010, members of the quartet have known each other much longer. First violinist James Ehnes told The Violin Channel that he and Schwartz Moretti first met at the Meadowmount School over 30 years ago, he and Arron had lived in the same dorms at Juilliard, and that the three of them had known O'Neill for about 20 years.
According to Ehnes, it is a "miracle" that the group was even able to make this recording, given the travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
The group had planned to undertake the recording sessions in the United Kingdom, but it soon became clear that this was not an option. Instead, they opted to record in Georgia. There, local engineer Steve Moretti was able to set up a high-quality stream that connected the group with their London-based engineer Simon Kiln in real-time — a scenario which Ehnes describes as "pretty extraordinary!"
The quartet chose to record these two late Beethoven quartets fairly late in the preparation process. They have played all of Beethoven's quartets many times and eventually decided that they would begin at the end of his career and work their way backward to the mid-output Op. 74.
"It’s not that we love this music more than the Op. 18 & 59 quartets," Ehnes says, "but we felt during that time that we had something particularly important that we wanted to say with these ones."
The album is now available from Onyx.