Violist Jan Grüning Makes Strudel (and gets the last laugh)

January 6, 2021, 3:00 PM · 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.

Jan Gruning family

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.


January 7, 2021 at 02:38 AM · Well that was marvelous! Once again you made my day Diana! I loved the article and the music! Your sense of humor in the article is on a par with Jan's. King of the Low C had me on the floor! And I love apple strudel! I love anything with apple actually, but especially hot apple strudel. When he took it out of the oven and you could see the steam rising, I could almost taste it! But to top it off, as you probably know, Brahms is my favorite composer so thank you for the magnificent first movement of his String Quartet in A minor recorded in a glorious setting with superb camerawork.

January 7, 2021 at 04:28 AM · Thanks for your enthusiastic comment, Joe! I agree about how mouthwatering the strudel looked coming out of the oven! And hearing the Brahms while seeing the glorious scenery really moved me as well. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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