Castalian String Quartet
"Outstanding….. a series of intricately connected works, each performed with rare beauty and originality by a quartet working at the height of its powers."
"The Castalian Quartet makes the simplest things we hear into the most important things we could ever want to hear.... There were times that I simply could not believe my ears."
"The Clarinet Quintet, a desert island choice for many of us, given a desert island-worthy performance here, ended the concert. To hear this music, so full of poetry, joy and sorrow, realised to such perfection, felt like a miracle.”
-The Guardian (UK)
This is indeed a special release from Delphian and the Castalian Quartet which deserves the very highest praise."
-BBC Music Magazine
“Deep contemplation and vivid spontaneity…The quartet’s [playing] is nothing short of a revelation in its lucidity of line and sheer beauty of sound.”
-BBC Music Magazine
“Their unique style – a powerful individuality of sound matched by an instinctive singularity of musical intention – lit up every single moment... A terrific programme; amazing players.”
2024 - 2025 PROGRAMS
MASTER LIST OF PIECES REPERTORY
(use to request your preferred program)
Thomas Adès: “Arcadiana” (1994)
Beethoven: Quartet in C-Major, Op. 59, No. 3
Beethoven: Quartet in F-minor, Op. 95
Berg: String Quartet, Op. 3
Charlotte Bray: “Ungrievable Lives” (composed for Castalian Quartet in 2022) see below for description
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Five Fantasiestücke, Op. 5 (1895)
Haydn: Quartet in G-minor, Op. 20, No. 3
György Kurtag: Six Moments Musicaux, Op. 44 (2005)
Schubert: Quartet movement in C-minor, D 703 (“Quartettsatz”)
Schubert: Quartet in A-minor, D 804 (“Rosamunde”)
Schubert: Quartet in D-minor, D 810 (“Death and the Maiden”)
Schubert: Quartet in G-Major, D 887
Mark-Anthony Turnage: “Awake” (composed for Castalian Quartet in 2021) see below for brief description of this work, and here for a video description
Charlotte Bray's Ungrievable Lives, written for the Castalian Quartet, explores the journey refugees embark on. It is inspired by Caroline Burraway's artwork: refugees' discarded life jackets collected from Greece, sown into 13 children's dresses. In response, the quartet comprises of 13 miniature movements, evoking memory, absence and loss, but also child's play on a lifeboat, a torchlight on the waves in the darkness, and shifting sands of cultural and political borders.
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Awake” (2021) is a two movement work inspired by Rita Dove’s collection of poems, “Sonata Mulaticca”, about the life of the mixed-race 19th Century violin virtuoso George Bridgetower, for whom Beethoven originally dedicated his 1804 violin sonata now known as the “Kreuzter”. The Castalian String Quartet commissioned ”Awake” to mark 100 years since Leos Janacek composed his first string quartet, “Kreutzer Sonata”, which references Leo Tolstoy’s 1889 novella of the same name. “Awake” will be premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2023.
SPECIFIC SUGGESTED PROGRAMS:
Program 1: Haydn 20/3; Adès “Arcadiana” // Schubert “Death & the Maiden”
Program 2: Schubert “Rosamunde”; Kurtag Op. 44 // Coleridge-Taylor Op. 5; Beethoven Op. 95
Program 3: Schubert “Quartettsatz”; Berg Op. 3 // Beethoven Op. 59/3
Program 4: Haydn 20/3; Turnage OR (choose one) Bray // Schubert Quartet in G-Major, D 887
Other combinations from the above are possible. Please let us know your preference and we will consult the quartet.
Sini Simonen, violin
Daniel Roberts, violin
Ruth Gibson, viola
Steffan Morris, cello
“A powerful individuality of sound matched by an instinctive singularity of musical intention” – The Scotsman
Since its formation in 2011, the London-based Castalian Quartet has distinguished itself as one of the most dynamic, sophisticated young string quartets performing today. They are an Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall in London and are the inaugural Hans Keller String Quartet in Residence at the Oxford University Faculty of Music. They are also the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2019 Young Artists Award.
The Castalian Quartet will tour North America in the 2023-24 season with performances in Dallas, San Francisco, Louisville, Chicago, Houston, and many other cities. Another highlight will be their collaboration with pianist Stephen Hough, who will join them for concerts in Costa Mesa, Carmel and Napa, CA; New York, NY; Rockport, MA; and Washington, D.C.
The Quartet works with many living composers, including recent premieres of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Charlotte Bray, and Edmund Finnis. They have also established a strong presence abroad, with performances of the complete Haydn Op.76 Quartets at Wigmore Hall; at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonic, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Paris Philharmonie, Vienna Konzerthaus, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, Carnegie Hall, the Spoleto USA Festival, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. They have played at the Heidelberger Frühling, East Neuk, Kuhmo, Edinburgh, Lockenhaus, and Banff International Festivals. Further afield, they undertook tours of China and Colombia.
In spring 2022, the Castalian Quartet released its first recording, Between Two Worlds (Delphian), featuring works by Thomas Adès, Beethoven, and first violinist Sini Simonen’s own arrangements of early works by Orlando de Lassus and John Dowland.
The Castalian Quartet studied with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media, graduating with a Master’s degree. In addition to the above, awards include Third Prize at the 2016 Banff Quartet Competition and First Prize at the 2015 Lyon Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2016. They have received coaching from Simon Rowland-Jones, David Waterman and Isabel Charisius.
Their name is derived from the Castalian Spring in the ancient city of Delphi. According to Greek mythology, the nymph Castalia transformed herself into a fountain to evade Apollo’s pursuit, thus creating a source of poetic inspiration for all who drink from her waters.