Violist Jan Grüning Makes Strudel (and gets the last laugh)
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Some of my best friends are violists. Really. And, trust me, after hearing master-violist Kim Kashkashian play live last year, I put my viola jokes aside for good. But that’s not to say there aren’t a few violists out there who can evoke a good laugh at the expense of us fiddlers. I recently had the opportunity to see one such violist perform with his quartet and in his own cooking segment.
And this maestro of the alto clef definitely gets the last laugh. In his words, “As a violist, I’m not only familiar with struggle, it’s practically in my comfort zone.”
The violist at the heart of my latest fascination is Jan Grüning, a member of the esteemed Ariel Quartet and a veritable Food Network star in the making. Make no mistake, Jan can bake.
Physically towering above his quartet mates, Grüning can’t help but command attention. Yet listening to the quartet’s recent livestream of Erwin Schulhoff’s striking String Quartet #1, Grüning not only knows exactly when to shine during some excruciatingly difficult passage work, more importantly he knows when to let others take the spotlight. (Being married to the quartet’s cellist, Amit Even-Tov, probably doesn’t hurt either.)
It’s in the kitchen where we see yet another side of this King of the Low C. Upstaged only by his adorable children, Grüning creates a Wiener Apfelstrudel (Viennese Apple Strudel) that is as beautiful and technically accurate as his playing.
And you gotta love a guy who uses the first violinist’s favorite concert shirt in lieu of parchment paper. Again, to quote Grüning, “Everything tastes a little better with just a pinch of revenge.”
Click here for the recipe.
And don’t miss this brief video of the Ariel Quartet playing the first movement of Brahms’ String Quartet in A minor at the spectacular “Domo” in Montana.