Fitzwilliam String Quartet
Now well into its fifth decade, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet is among the longest established string quartets in the world. The current line-up combines original member and violist Alan George with the next generation of performers, violinists Lucy Russell and Marcus Barcham-Stevens, and cellist Heather Tuach.
Founded in 1968 by four undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, the Fitzwilliam first became known internationally through its close personal association with Dmitri Shostakovich, who befriended the four of them following a visit to York to hear them play. He entrusted the Fitzwilliam with the Western premières of his last three quartets, and before long it had become the first ever group to perform and record all fifteen. These recordings gained international awards and secured a worldwide concert schedule, together with a long term contract with Decca/London culminating in a Beethoven cycle. The FSQ's Shostakovich set continues to be a defining work, and was included in Gramophone magazine's "Hundred Greatest-Ever Recordings" in November 2005.
Today, the FSQ performs a wide and diverse range of music, from the late 17th century to the present day. It is one of the few quartets to use historical instruments for the appropriate repertoire, and perhaps unique in performing on both historical and modern instruments. The quartet's involvement in 2013 with celebrating Britten's centenary, and in 2012 the chamber works of Delius and Grainger, reflects the players' enthusiasm for using anniversaries to promote less familiar music - following Vaughan Williams in 2008. England is now gradually taking its place alongside Russia and Vienna as a principal area of speciality for the Fitzwilliam.
The FSQ has performed regularly across Britain, Europe, North America, the Far East, and South Africa, as well as making a series of award winning recordings for Decca, Linn, and Divine Art. The FSQ's current collaboration with Linn Records began in 2000 with Haydn's Seven Last Words, followed by critically acclaimed recordings of the Brahms clarinet quintet (Lesley Schatzberger) and Vaughan Williams's On Wenlock Edge (James Gilchrist/Anna Tilbrook) - the latter a Finalist in the 2008 Gramophone Awards.
Recent highlights of the FSQ's activities in 2012 and 2013 include a recording of the complete quartets of John Ramsay and overseas ventures to South Africa, with concerts in Cape Town and Pretoria as well as recording sessions for works by the Cape composer Michael Blake (released earlier this year). There were also performances in London at Wigmore Hall and Kings Place, at the Ryedale Festival in North Yorkshire, and at festivals abroad in Derry, Northern Ireland, and in St. John's, Newfoundland.
For further information -
'...this was a performance that communicated splendidly the work's generous and tender heart and the profundity of its composer's vision.'more >>MusicWeb International
"...Striking..."more >>Early Music News
a superb performance of these marvellous piecesmore >>The Scotsman
playing that is pure, sensitive and, where called for, gorgeously passionatemore >>Scotland on Sunday
a fascinating insightmore >>