Elias String Quartet
"The Elias approached the whole work with a wonderful balance between profundity and earthiness....their playing flowed between the human and the celestial worlds. All in all, a life-affirming performance.
“Many think this young quartet will be the next Amadeus, and these performances support such a view. Their mutual rapport is obvious and their performance of Mozart’s ‘Dissonance’ Quartet (K. 465) reveals a deep affinity with the composer."
-Sunday Telegraph (London)
“Magic moments abound…[an] ability to live and breathe each phrase with an enraptured sensitivity."
“The group showed a predilection for slow, shapely, breathable phrasing, and seemed to set the hall itself ringing”
“Spectacular….a perfectly balanced mix of vitality, depth, formal elegance and that playful, flirtatious wit that makes all of Haydn’s quartets so impossible to resist....A bold, often thrilling performance.”
"There's something intoxicating about the Elias String Quartet.... Intensely absorbing, exquisitely considered....stunning.
2024 - 2025 PROGRAMS
Beethoven: Quartet in C Sharp Minor, Op. 131
Britten: String Quartet No. 3 in G-Major, Op. 94
Haydn: String Quartet in D-minor, Op. 103
Korngold: String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26
Fanny Mendelssohn: String Quartet in Eb-Major
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet in F-minor, Op. 80
Erwin Schulhoff: Five Pieces for String Quartet
Caroline Shaw: “Entr’acte”
plus special collaboration: Elgar Piano Quintet with Jonathan Biss
specific program suggestions (other combinations are possible by request):
PROGRAM 1 (“Swan Songs”):
Haydn Op. 103; Britten 3 // Mendelssohn op 80
Haydn Op. 103; Schulhoff 5 Pieces // Beethoven 131
Haydn Op. 103 or (choose one) Schulhoff 5 Pieces; Fanny Mendelssohn //
Haydn Op. 103; Korngold 2 // Beethoven 131
Fanny Mendelssohn; Caroline Shaw “Entr’act” // Felix Mendelssohn Op. 80
Sara Bitlloch, violin
Donald Grant, violin
Simone van der Giessen, viola
Marie Bitlloch, cello
The Elias String Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is its German form, and quickly established themselves as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of their generation. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg quartet. Between 2005 and 2009 they were resident String Quartet at Sheffield’s “Music in the Round” as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet. They are now ensemble in residence at the Royal Northern College of Music and regularly return there to teach and perform. This season’s North American tour will take them to Houston, TX; Mobile, AL; Tryon, NC; Santa Fe, NM; and Iowa City, IA, where they will participate in the University of Iowa’s illustrious string quartet residency program.
In 2009 the Elias was chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists’ scheme and was also a recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Trust, the Elias Quartet mounted “The Beethoven Project,” studying and performing all of Beethoven’s string quartets as cycles whilst sharing their experience through a special website (www.thebeethovenproject.com) and social media. The project culminated with a cycle at Wigmore Hall, all six concerts recorded for the Wigmore Live label. The quartet has since performed complete Beethoven cycles at numerous venues worldwide, most recently at Tokyo’s prestigious Suntory Hall in June 2023.
The Quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. They have recorded the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss, a Britten Quartets disc for Sonimage, a Mendelssohn disc for ASV Gold and Schumann string quartets for Outhere. Their two mixed programme recordings for Wigmore Live were praised unanimously, the first winning a BBC Music Magazine Newcomers award. Most recently, they have recorded the complete Beethoven quartets live at Wigmore Hall, released in six volumes to great critical acclaim. BBC Music Magazine described their performance as “simply astounding, in the freshness, intensity, assurance, and seeming spontaneity of their playing.”