Ten-year Plan: Quatuor Arod Is Determined to Stick Together

“Our goal is to play the next 50 years together, though who knows what life is going to bring.”

By David Templeton | From the January-February 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

In late 2023, the four members of the Paris-based Quatuor Arod sat down together to make some plans for their future. The greatly acclaimed, multiple award–winning ensemble—made up of violinists Jordan Victoria and Alexandre Vu, violist Tanguy Parisot, and cellist Jérémy Garbarg—had just celebrated its tenth anniversary. The foursome was ready to map out where they were headed next.

“We have little meetings like that every once in a while,” explains Garbarg, the newest member of the quartet, having replaced Samy Rachid, who left the group to pursue a career as a conductor. “This time we got really excited and planned our next ten seasons, over the next ten years. We included our choices for the next albums we will make, repertoire we want to take on tour, all of our ideas.”

Quatuor Arod, Left to right: Jordan Victoria, Jérémy Garbarg, Tanguy Parisot, Alexandre Vu, Photo: Laure Bernard
Quatuor Arod, Left to right: Jordan Victoria, Jérémy Garbarg, Tanguy Parisot, Alexandre Vu. Photo: Laure Bernard.

So now they know exactly what music they will be playing in June of 2032… “If everything remains okay and goes according to the plan,” Garbarg says. “We are a bit crazy about planning. The string quartet repertoire is so large, so we just express our wishes, each of us, suggesting what pieces we’d like to experiment with, to play and to record, and we try to find good combinations, to think of a special project around them, to make a logical or poetic link between the pieces. We still have so much repertoire to play; one lifetime will not be enough to get to all of it.”

They’ve certainly gotten off to a good start. Over the last ten years, Quatuor Arod has recorded quartets and other pieces by Felix Mendelssohn; Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden;” works by Alexander von Zemlinsky, Anton Webern, and Arnold Schoenberg (the latter on a recording the quartet titled The Mathilde Album); and more, proving to be as artistically curious as they are technically superb.

To celebrate the ensemble’s ten-year mark in the business, Quatuor Arod released the album Debussy-Ravel-Attahir: String Quartets, distributed by Erato/Warner Classics. The recording brings together the well-known Debussy and Ravel quartets—composed in 1893 and 1903, respectively—with the comparatively new composition “Al Asr,” from French composer Benjamin Attahir. The album’s physical release is accompanied by a DVD documentary titled Ménage à Quatre, directed by the legendary French filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon. 

Quatuor Arod – Debussy: String Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10, L. 85: III. Andantino doucement expressif

Of the repertoire for the album, Garbarg suggests that focusing on French quartets was an obvious choice. “We grew up in this culture, and we feel very connected to this repertoire because it’s been part of us since we started playing music,” he says. “Personally, I grew up listening to Ravel and Debussy in my parents’ car, when I was five years old, turned up very loud. This music is deeply anchored in my skin.”


First violinist Jordan Victoria, a founding member of the ensemble, takes up that thread. “As a French quartet, playing French music is just something we have to do,” he says. “But it’s more than just an obligation. After ten years, looking for a way to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, it seemed like a good idea to do a French album.”

Including the Attahir piece on the album was also obvious, they point out, since it was commissioned by Arod six years ago, premiered by the quartet in Paris in 2017. A 2019 and 2021 nominee for Composer of the Year at Victoire de la musique classique, Attahir is a fast-rising star composer with strong collaborative associations with dozens of ensembles and orchestras across Europe. And, like Debussy, Ravel, and the members of Quatuor Arod, he is French, born in Toulouse in 1989. “Attahir writes in warm, beautiful colors,” Garbarg says, “with very suggestive imagery that can really be related to the French repertoire that has its own poetry.”

The album was recorded over four days in March of 2023, in Germany. “Actually, it was funny how we came to do it there,” says Victoria. “We did a concert in Neumatt, a little town in Germany, and we fell in love with it and thought it would be great to do a recording there.”

The documentary that accompanies the album was released in France just before those recording sessions in Neumatt. For all the quartet’s meticulous planning, the opportunity to make the film with Monsaingeon was an unscheduled surprised. “The documentary was absolutely not planned,” says Victoria. “It was something that just happened very unexpectedly. Bruno wrote to our label after he listened to our Mathilde album, saying that he wanted to meet us. But this was a handwritten letter, which was lost many times. It took almost six months for the letter find us. When it did, we invited him to come and see us at some private performances, and we grew closer. Bruno is 80 years old, but he is like a teenager in his energy and enthusiasm.”

Filming began just after the pandemic, in April 2022. “He simply followed us through a few performances,” Victoria recalls. “His way of filming is extremely discreet and nonintrusive for the artists. He knows where to place himself and the camera so as not to disturb us and to let things happen naturally. There were times we didn’t even know he was filming us.”

A renowned filmmaker, writer, and violinist, Monsaingeon has produced several award-winning documentaries about prominent 20th-century musicians. His subjects have included pianist Glenn Gould, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, pianist Sviatoslav Richter, violinist David Oistrakh, and pianist Maurizio Pollini. “I think what makes this documentary quite magical is that you get a real picture of what our jobs are as musicians, and they are not normal jobs,” says Garbarg. “It really reflects who and what we are.”


“Bruno is also a violinist,” points out Victoria, “so he was very sensitive about showing how we play, how to film the fingering on our instruments, because he knows very well what we do and how to show it.”

A highlight of the film is a master class with composer György Kurtág, which Monsaingeon arranged just for the film. “We spent a week in Budapest to explore the city and also have a master class with Kurtág, so we got to play with him a portion of his composition 12 Microludes,” says Garbarg. “It’s an important part of the documentary, something like 15 minutes long. In real life it was nine hours of intense teaching; every bar, every note. Kurtág was 97 at the time, and his spirit is so young. He was very passionate about every note. He made us discover the inner thoughts of every note he’d written.”

At one point, inviting the musicians to play a note in a different octave than originally composed, Kurtág told them he had just decided to change his own score in response to what they’d done. “I still cannot believe that happened,” says Victoria. “He changed his own music because of that master class.”

The rest of the film explores the lives of each player and the conscious efforts they make to remain psychologically healthy as individuals and as a team. Akin to Metallica’s documentary Some Kind of Monster, Quatuor Arod’s film demonstrates that lasting a long time as an ensemble does not happen accidentally. It’s a mutual effort based on a decision to stay together as long as possible.


“Our goal is to play the next 50 years together, though who knows what life is going to bring,” says Victoria. “It’s such work, being a quartet. We need so much time to practice and time to be ourselves in our own lives. Jeremy has been in the quartet for two years, and I feel that he’s only now really starting to feel like a member. A quartet needs to get to know each other, to know the way we work, to find our way to agreements. And that takes time. It’s hard to change members every few years because you have to learn that all over again. I hope we will continue together, all four of us, for years and years and years.”

That, agrees Garbarg, is what the film is all about. “It shows that one of the first reasons we play together is that we are able to respect each other and are working to be better at communication and all these other aspects that you might not think about at first because all of that is not written on the score,” he says. “But it’s what makes a quartet a quartet. That’s how a group can grow and evolve, by simply trying and working to stick together as much as possible.” 

Adds Victoria with a smile, “I think everyone alive should be in a string quartet for three to five years. You learn a lot about psychology and how to work as a team.”

Since they’ve decided to stay together for a very long time—and have even charted their goals for the following decades—the next step is to continue to expand their international following. The new album and film are parts of that effort. “It’s one of the secondary goals of an album, to reach more people and find new fans and followers,” says Garbarg. “And with this documentary, it’s really an open door for people who don’t know our music. For now, the film has been streamed mainly in France, but suddenly there are many new people driving hours to see us in concert, to meet us personally, because the film somehow touched a part of their soul. And they want to share that with us, and we are super happy that this can happen.”

“And of course,” adds Victoria, “as classical musicians, our goal is to open our world to as many people as possible, because we believe it is one of the most beautiful art forms that exists, and we dream that more people will benefit from that art.”