Two violins, one viola, one cello: the string quartet is considered the ideal musical formation. After leaving the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Paris in 2013, four musicians with an average age of 24 formed the Arod Quartet. Arod? A reference to the horse rode bareback and bridleless in the Lord of the Rings! Jordan Victoria and Alexandre Vu, violins, Corentin Apparailly, viola, and Samy Rachid, cello, have experienced a meteoric ascent supported by Societe Generale’s musical patronage association, Mécénat Musical Société Générale.
Interview with Samy and Corentin FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: SAMY RACHID, JORDAN VICTORIA, CORENTIN APPARAILLY ET ALEXANDRE VU
WHY CREATE A QUARTET?
Samy Because it’s great! The repertoire written for string quartets is unbelievable, with a huge number of masterpieces. Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn: everyone agrees that writing for a string quartet is the most difficult. There are four voices, but three different tones of instruments, with violins, the deeper viola and the even deeper cello. However, you can’t go too low, because the cello is not a double bass...it’s a real conundrum.
Corentin The quartet is a discussion between four people. Often the four people are speaking at the same time, sometimes an instrument speaks on its own. The discussion may be heated, solemn or even a collective prayer.
DID YOU DREAM ABOUT FORMING A QUARTET?
Samy No, it happened by chance. Jordan dreamed of being a soloist, Corentin was thinking about composing, and Alex and I were thinking of playing in an orchestra… but being immersed among 110 other musicians, that’s a vocation. A string quartet is a means of asserting yourself while remaining within a collective. We formed the quartet in 2013 and were quickly offered concerts. We were lucky, beyond our wildest dreams!
IN 2016, YOU WON THE ARD1 MUSIC COMPETITION IN MUNICH. WHAT DID THAT CHANGE?
Samy There are a lot of string quartets, so competitions are a necessary way of making yourselves known. Some organisers only go through this route: they offer the winner several concert dates. Winning the Nielsen Competition in Copenhagen in 2015 gave us the opportunity to tour Northern Europe.
Corentin We have had good experiences in these competitions. It wasn’t a chore but a common goal. We were focused on ARD for months: we spoke of nothing else, among ourselves and with our friends. One of them even came with us to Munich: we rented an apartment, and he cooked for us while we took the tests! It’s really special, this life in a foursome, which our friends find it difficult to understand. Even musicians can’t imagine what it’s like. There is a higher dimension in a quartet, it’s more than just working in a team. When we meet other quartets, they understand!
WHAT IS THE RHYTHM OF LIFE IN A STRONG QUARTET?
Samy A quartet is a lifestyle choice. We all live in Paris, which makes a lot of things easier, because we see each other four to six hours a day to work. We part company in the evening … only to get in touch again on social networks and discuss schedules, programmes, etc. It never ends.
SOCIAL NETWORKS: CONSTRAINT OR PLEASURE?
Corentin Our generation has grown up with social networks: they’re part of our lifestyle. We don’t use Facebook to communicate by posting some nice photos. We talk as much as possible about the daily life of the quartet, our identity beyond concerts and rehearsals. We like showing Jordan’s bichon frise walking across a concert hall… our mascot! It is also a means of showing that classical music is not as stuffy as many people believe.
Along with contemporary art, classical music is one of the two major strands of the Societe Generale Group’s cultural patronage policy. In 2017, the Mécénat Musical Société Générale Association celebrates its 30th anniversary, 30 years during which it has supported excellence, innovation and sharing. It has established itself as a point of reference for classical music in France. The partnership with the Arod Quartet is part of the association’s strong ongoing commitment to chamber music: Mécénat Musical Société Générale has supported various string quartets, including the Parisi Quartet and the Debussy Quartet when they were starting out. In 2017, it supported two young string quartets, Van Kuijk and Arod. In the same way, the association has also renewed its partnership with the ProQuartet association, which it supported in 1987.