Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet

Tour Dates: 6th May - 20th May, 2024

The Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet was established in 1985 as a chamber music ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker. After 30 successful years, a new generation took over.

Tour Dates
  • 6th May - 20th May, 2024

Luis Esnaola, violin
Matthew Hunter, viola
Knut Weber, cello
Markus Groh, piano

„…marked by a dulcet softness from the three string players“, „Pianist Markus Groh matched that string sound with a delicate touch in his right hand’s ornate, high-treble figuration…“, about Brahms g-minor Quartet: „..the second movement…allowed them to create a creamy, warm sound together. No complaints about the virtuosity of the technique, blistering in the stormy finale, which elicited an encore, the equally restless Scherzo from Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major.“

- Charles T. Downey, Washington Post

„Divided into five parts, Elfman’s piece is strikingly contemporary, with Philip Glass-like passages particularly in the first and third sections, rapidly changing meter, a juggling of moods between the sections and percussive elements, at times coming from the piano, at times from the plucked strings of the violin, viola and cello.“ ; „…Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25,…showcased the exquisite playing of the quartet, particularly that of pianist Markus Groh....capping an evening that will be memorable, even more so as the quartet’s premiere of Elfman’s brilliant composition.“


Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet

The Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet was established in 1985 as a chamber music ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker. After 30 successful years, a new generation took over. The ensemble introduced itself with its new members for the first time in the Chamber Music Hall in September 2015. Together with founding member Rainer Mehne they performed Frank Martin’s Piano Quartet, thus demonstrating that they wanted to carry on the artistic spirit of the original ensemble. Today the Quartet consists of three members of the orchestra – violinist Luis Esnaola, violist Matthew Hunter and cellist Knut Weber – as well as the renowned pianist Markus Groh.

The four musicians devote themselves to the genre of the piano quartet, which is less prominent than the string quartet. This fascinating combination has inspired nearly every great composer since the time of Viennese Classicism. An impressive body of literature comprising a vast number of works has been composed for this genre. In addition to the more familiar quartets of Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism, the repertoire of the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet also includes unknown compositions and rediscovered works.

During their last US tour, the musicians presented a new composition by the American film composer Danny Elfman, who wrote a five-movement work for the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet which was commissioned by the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation. A recording of this quartet was released by Sony Classics in spring of 2019; the German premiere took place in February 2020.

Luis Esnaola, violin

“At my first concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which I experienced while I was a student of the Orchestra Academy, I was immediately moved by the unique sound of the orchestra and the absolute dedication of the musicians.”

A native of Madrid, Luis Esnaola grew up in a family where music always played an important role. From childhood, he was particularly fascinated by the violin because of its great expressive capabilities. As a result, he first studied the instrument at the the New England Conservatory under Donald Weilerstein, before continuing his training at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin under Antje Weithaas in 2009, where he graduated with a masters in music in 2012.

While still studying, he was offered a place at the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Orchestra Academy where he became a student of Christophe Horak. His time at the Academy made a great impression on him, Esnaola says, discovering not only the special nature of the orchestra’s music making, but also the qualities that make a top musician: Absolute dedication and commitment to the music and a high level of motivation. He received further inspiration from master classes with, among others, Dorothy DeLay, Itzhak Perlman, Rainer Kussmaul and Christian Tetzlaff.

A winner of a range of competitions, he gained orchestral experience as section leader of the second violins in the Tonhalle-Orchestra Zurich in addition to his time with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In September 2016, he joined the first violin section of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Moreover, Luis Esnaola is also active as a chamber musician and soloist. In his spare time he is interested in football, going to the cinema and travelling.

Matthew Hunter, viola

»My teacher Julian Olevsky was a native of Berlin who was forced to emigrate with his family in 1934. Since the age of six I’ve had his Berlin sound in my Massachusetts ears. When I heard the orchestra’s first note on my first day with the Berliner Philharmoniker, it was as though I had come home, both for the music and for the sound. A circle was closed.«

Matthew Hunter was 26 when he »discovered« the viola. He was pursuing the career of violinist and had devised a special training programme for that instrument: if he could play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in tune on the larger viola, then – according to his theory – the piece would be »child’s play« for him on the violin. He became so infatuated with the viola’s »dark chocolate« tone that he made the switch over to the deeper instrument. Shortly after that he won the Gee International Viola Competition. Hunter, who began music lessons at the age of seven, cites as his formative teachers Julian Olevsky, Roman Totenberg (former assistant to Carl Flesch in Berlin), Michael Tree and Jaime Laredo. In 1985 he became Masao Kawasaki’s assistant at Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. He also earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy at Dartmouth College as well as a Master of Music and Artist’s Diploma. Matthew Hunter came to the Berliner Philharmoniker from Ottawa, where from 1991-95 he was associate principal viola of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. He is a versatile musician, who also plays the guitar (for example in performances of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony), makes arrangements and plays in several Philharmonic chamber ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic Stradivari Soloists.

Knut Weber, cello

»My most important and perhaps most satisfying experience in this orchestra was the realization that each individual is expected to be able to take musical responsibility for him- or herself. This sense of responsibility is quickly transmitted to every new member and thus comes to characterize the orchestra as a whole, in musical as well as other matters of mutual concern.«

A friend of his older sister played the cello. Knut Weber, then exactly five years old, was especially taken with the low strings and knew at once: »That’s my instrument!« He’d already been searching for a suitable one and, in any event, wanted to learn an instrument where you didn’t have to stand while playing. The cello seemed absolutely ideal. He received his first musical training from the Slovenian cellist Milos Mlejnik. Later he studied in Cologne with the Alban Berg Quartet and Claus Kanngiesser as well as with Wolfgang Boettcher in Berlin, where in 2002 he passed his concert exam with distinction. Further significant encouragement came from Heinrich Schiff, Frans Helmerson, David Geringas, Siegfried Palm and the Beaux Arts Trio.

Knut Weber, winner of numerous competitions, was a scholarship holder and principal cellist of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and later a founding member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra before joining the Berliner Philharmoniker at the age of 23. In addition to his orchestral activities, the cellist also performs as a soloist, including with the Kammerorchester Wien-Berlin, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra. Chamber music is also a focal point of his musical activities. He has partnered Nelson Freire, Mitsuko Uchida and many of his orchestra’s soloists such as Daishin Kashimoto, Noah Bendix-Balgley, Emmanuel Pahud and Andreas Ottensammer. As a member of the 12 Cellists of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Stradivari Soloists and the Philharmonic Piano Quartet Berlin, Knut Weber performs regularly in Europe, Asia and the USA. He also enjoys working with youth orchestras as a teacher and soloist.

Markus Groh, pianist

Pianist Markus Groh gained immediate world attention after winning the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in 1995, the first German to do so. Since then his remarkable “sound imagination” and astonishing technique, have confirmed his place among the finest pianists in the world.

Recent engagements include debuts with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica under Carl St. Clair, performing the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, and the Pacific Symphony, as well as returns to the Omaha Symphony and the UCLA Clark Library in recital. The 19/20 season also will see the second U.S. tour of the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet.

Markus Groh has also appeared with the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, National/Washington, D.C., the New York Philharmonic, Omaha, Philadelphia, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver, among others. Worldwide engagements include the Beijing Symphony, Berlin Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Residentie Orkest/The Hague, Helsinki Philharmonic, London Symphony, Malmö Symphony, MDR Orchestra/Leipzig Gewandhaus, New Japan Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, to name a few.

A spellbinding recitalist, Mr. Groh draws from the piano shapes, textures, and colors that one seldom hears in live performance. In addition to his stunning debut on the Hayes Piano Series at the Kennedy Center in 2013, he has appeared at the Friends of Chamber Music series in Denver and Kansas City, the Vancouver Recital Society, and several times at The Frick Collection in New York. Chamber music activities include regular tours with the Tokyo String Quartet and the newly-founded Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet.

Widely acclaimed for his interpretations of Liszt, Markus Groh was a student of Professor Konrad Richter in Stuttgart and Professor Hans Leygraf in Berlin and Salzburg. He has recently been named Professor of Piano at the University of the Arts in Berlin.