When I look back at the past 10 years in the ASQ, one of the most significant accomplishments for me is the extensive recording library that we’ve put together in such a short time. Just the other day I looked at my CD shelf and I counted at least 35 new discs; including a complete Beethoven Cycle (the 2nd for the ASQ), a complete Shostakovich Cycle (which includes the Piano Quintet, a newly recovered string quartet, AND four of my own string quartet transcriptions), as well as several world premiere recordings of new works written for the ASQ. Our recording activities don’t seem to want to slow down either. Future projects include a Bartók/Kodály Cycle, a Brahms Project (Quartets, Quintets & Sextets) as well as some smaller projects that will definitely keep us busy for the next 10 years.

Playing in a professional string quartet is a dream job for so many string musicians. Having the opportunity to document and record the string quartet repertoire has always been MY dream. Those who are closest to me know how much of a recording junkie I am. The funny thing is however, even though I listen to a LOT of recordings, the recordings that I tend to AVOID are my own recordings with the ASQ. It’s partially due to the fact that I’m the one who works closely with our producer; listening to first, second and sometimes even third edits of our recordings during post-production. By the time we’re finally finished doing the editing, I’m so sick of listening to it, I’d rather not listen to anything at all!

However, there IS one particular recording of the ASQ that I enjoy revisiting from time to time. It’s a disc that not too many people have actually heard because it was a promotional CD that the Quartet put together fairly quickly; just after I joined the Quartet in 2002. What’s interesting about this disc isn’t so much that the performance that was captured was particularly stellar; it’s just one of those perfect examples of a snap-shot in time.

Whenever I listen to this disc, I’m transported back to that concert 10 years ago and I can feel and hear the energy and excitement; not just in my own playing, but from all four of us. We were deep in our honeymoon-phase as a string quartet and you can sense that we were ALL excited; excited to be together, playing together and working together as a string quartet. There’s a sense of freshness and newness in our playing that can only happen once – that very first time.

-Zak Grafilo

This was my first public performance with the Alexander String Quartet; recorded live at the SummerArts- International Chamber Music Course in Fresno, CA – July 1, 2002:

Dmitri Shostakovich
String Quartet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 68
I. Overture (Moderato con moto)

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