The Endellion String Quartet who are now in their 37th season, is renowned as one of the finest quartets in the world. In 2013 Gramophone stated 'There’s always a feeling when listening to the Endellion Quartet that you’re listening to the Urtext method of quartet playing. Maybe 35 years of playing together has brought to them as a group a uniformity of thought and instinct that allows them to play as a single entity.'
In Britain, the Endellion String Quartet has appeared at nearly all of the major series and festivals and has broadcast many times on BBC radio and television. It has appeared at the Proms and been featured in the week-long programmes 'Artist of the Week' and 'Artists in Focus'. Its presence in London has been marked for many years by an annual series at Wigmore Hall, and also by appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall where the Quartet members were Artistic Directors of several 'Quartet Plus' series. The Endellion also continues its prestigious Residency at Cambridge University which began in 1991, gives a regular Spring series at The Venue Leeds, and will soon begin a new series at Balliol College in Oxford. It has worked with guest artists including members of the former Amadeus Quartet, Sir Thomas Allen, Joshua Bell, Michael Collins, Benjamin Grosvenor, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Stephen Hough, Steven Isserlis, Mitsuko Uchida and Tabea Zimmermann.
The quartet's international schedule includes regular tours of North and South America and concerts in Australasia, the Far East, Middle East, South Africa and Western Europe. Everywhere, the Endellion String Quartet 'sets the audience ablaze' (Daily Telegraph) and 'captivates concertgoers with a remarkable rapport, playing to each other with a sense almost of discovery, communicating to the audience on a level of unusual intimacy.' (Guardian)
After the Endellions performed a Beethoven Cycle at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Strad Magazine marvelled over 'the trust and risk-taking that comes from years of playing together – [it] was a true delight.' Other recent and future highlights include appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, International Festival of Music in Tarragona, Montreal's Pollack Hall, a tour of Mexico including a performance at the Festival Internacional Cervantino, a fortnight of concerts and teaching in China and Taiwan, and the Endellion's first concert in Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow.
Andrew Watkinson, violin
Ralph de Souza, violin
Garfield Jackson, viola
David Waterman, cello
The Endellion Quartet opened this concert with a spirited account of Haydn's G major Quartet op.76 no.1. The first movement was ebullient, and the Adagio sostenuto second movement was similarly full of life, pulsing and forward-moving. The minuet was sheer fun, the leader Andrew Watkinson enjoyed himself in the dancing trio, and Rossini seemed to peep out from the finale.
In Britten’s First String Quartet there was the same sense of propulsion and urgency. The first movement featured fine playing from cellist David Waterman. After some particularly vehement playing in the Allegretto con slancio second movement, violist Garfiled Jackson shone in the gentle Andante calmo. The finale was a nice mix of energy, lightness, effervescence and power. It all amounted to a terrific performance.
Strad Magazine, June 2014, QEH Haydn and Britten
One doubts if [one] could have imagined a finer performance than that given by the Endellion Quartet, its playing of this centrifugal masterpiece of European art was incredibly fine. Tempos were absolutely right… so too tuning, phrasing and that wondrous element of genuine chamber-music playing – the authentic 'give-and-take' of like-minded players, each secure in the knowledge of their colleagues' artistry – was a joy.
… it was a privilege to hear this performance.
Musical Opinion, June 2014, QEH Haydn and Britten
There's always a feeling when listening to the Endellion Quartet that you're listening to the Urtext method of quartet playing. Maybe 35 years of playing together has brought to them as a group a uniformity of thought and instinct that allows them to play as a single entity; or maybe their unfussy, intellectual approach is particularly compatible with a genre that is, if done skilfully, a concentration of all the musical ideas of the composer.
Either way (or, more likely, both ways), the Endellion's playing is nearly always beyond reproach, and this contrasting army of Haydn's quartet styles and personalities is no exception. They bring our with very simple clarity all of Haydn's humour, his partiality to gypsy dances, his ability to write melodies that are deeply affecting in their simplicity, and the mercuriality of his personality (particularly through his occasional unexpected key-changes). All this is imparted through an easy congeniality that plainly belies a minuteness in their study of the music. The beautifully balanced arguments of this optimistic disc are highly recommended.
Gramophone, March 2013, CD: Haydn Quartets (Warner Classics)
In this instalment of the Endellion Quartet's New York complete Beethoven cycle, the players demonstrated a thoughtful approach to the music that was always interesting and never predictable or trite. The Quartet op. 18 no. 5 demonstrated energy and restraint. Its variation movement was a true delight – humorous, conversational, and both appropriately boisterous and quietly delicate.
Beethoven's final quartet, op. 135, was performed in the middle of the programme after an elegant spoken introduction by first violinist Andrew Watkinson from the stage. The trust and risk-taking that come from years of playing together were evident in the Endellion's performance. The Allegretto had just the right balance of optimism and dark humour and the Vivace was filled with energy, discipline and fun. The virtuosic first violin had flair and prevision without feeling laboured. The quartet's Lento assai was serious, but also highly tender and personal, and the inner voices' supporting lines were emotive and generous. The haunting start to the final movement was anguished and convincing.
The Strad, May 2013, Beethoven cycle concert, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Endellion is a quartet of the first rank: precision, clarity of articulation, and beauty of sound characterize both the individual playing and the stimulating interplay of the four team-mates. From the opening Haydn Op 76 no 1 I will remember especially the Adagio perfectly sustained from the first note to the last and the exceptional brilliance of the first violin separated from his colleagues in the Trio of the Menuet.
In Britten's 3rd quartet, the British group underlined with rare emphasis the mysterious sonorities which are a premonition of death...
In Beethoven 59 no 2 the entire range of the quartet from the violins' acute focus to the depth of the cello conveyed the profundity of feeling in the slow movement... The Scherzo was more disturbing than comic and the Presto was a wild romp...
Excellent. And also courageous because they revealed new unsuspected aspects of Haydn, Britten and Beethoven whom we had thought we already knew.
La Presse, August 2012, Montreal,Canada
The Endellion String Quartet is celebrating its 30th birthday. Cambridge University, where the Quartet has long had a residency, needs even more candles on the cake this year - 800. Both milestones are worth blasts of trumpets, though the sounds of the Endellions navigating Beethoven on Wednesday were reward enough for me.
They were playing the early Opus 18 No 6, and playing it with a degree of finesse possible only in a group that has operated for 30 years with just one change of personnel. Intonation, balance, rhythmic precision, subtleties of dynamics and colour: all were unimpeachable. But the special glory lay in the Endellions’ light conversational tone. With that in place, from the very first bar, every rhythmic nicety took on a lilt and sparkle. Graceful sighs, filigree dancing and jumping-jack rhythms dominated the middle movements. In the finale, melancholy weighed in on cue, but nothing could shake the music’s smile. A lovely performance. They shone too in the mirrors and smoke of Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana - an Endellion commission from 1994, custom-built for their brilliance as quick-change magicians and masters of perfect pitch.
The Times, 2009, Cambridge
The Endellion Quartet gave a remarkably convincing premiere (Holloway’s completion of Haydn Op. 103)... ...Janacek’s kaleidoscopic switches in mood and tempo were beautifully captured... ...Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A was nobly delivered
The Independent 2009
The Endellion Quartet cover the whole classic range from Haydn to Bartók, with liberal representation of recent and new works, with equal stylishness, energy, accomplishment: no eccentricities - a mainstream/bread-of-life presentation, obtruding nothing between the music and its realisation.
Robin Holloway The Spectator 2009
In this superb cycle, the Endellion Quartet is in its element, the players inspiring each other to express fully the expansive lyricism and poetry to be found in these scores that are far from easy to interpret. The musicians balance a powerful sense of spontaneity (it seems more like a live recording than a studio recording) with a determination to offer truthful and responsible Beethoven interpretations, albeit extraordinarily expressive. They find a way of making music which perfectly responds to the demands of the music. Their choice of tempi, and the appropriate sonorities at each moment, together with their great flexibility which allows them either to blend or to sing out each voice distinctly, makes of these performances a paradigmatic model. They distil delicacy, inner vitality, and emotional drama that strikes the listener as coherent and vivid. The four musicians are made from the same recipe: talent, courage and instrumental naturalness, clarity of ideas and concepts and energy intelligently channelled by the intimate needs of the music. Excellent.
SCHERZO Magazine (Spain) April 2007
The exquisite Endellion String Quartet offered a rich and fiery rendition of Brahms’s String Quintet in G major Op. 111 with violist Lawrence Dutton.
The Korea Times August 2008
...Enter the Endellion String Quartet, on volume three of their complete cycle of Beethoven's string music, whose command of his challenges now seems unassailable. Add to this the fact that the Quartet is playing off Jonathan Del Mar's new edition of Beethoven scores, and this fine CD sits on the spectrum between state-of-the-art and definitive. Del Mar's job is to correct mistakes and restore changes to the printed music that have crept in over the passage of time. A restored cello phrase in the Grosse Fugue is so outrageously taxing that the Dionysian flow of the music temporarily buckles to accommodate the leaps; the Endellion's and Del Mar's scholarship teleports the listener back to as pure a Beethoven experience as can now exist. Op 130 itself begins in visceral, gutsy fashion as the Endellion's articulate Beethoven's structural disjoints like the granite corners of a Henry Moore. Notably, the lyricism of the Andante movement is highly affecting, emerging refreshed and thoughtfully re-imagined.
Classic FM Magazine January 2007
In both works these superb musicians respond to the dark undertow so characteristic of Beethoven's quartets as much as the gentle lyricism which invariably breaks through. With seven discs to go, the rest of this cycle is a mouth-watering prospect
The Observer Feb 2006
This British ensemble play with a really extraordinary communication and enthusiasm and obtained a heartfelt ovation.
El Periodico Barcelona Feb 2006
The 3 quartets in the programme have great intensity, very well maintained by the performers. Showing a wealth of experience, they delivered Haydn Op 76 No 1 with remarkable precision, perfectly gauging their diverse contributions and infusing the performance with many moments of exemplary subtleties of colour, and with clarity and independence of voices. The finale was masterly.
...The response from the public after the Bartok was really enthusiastic, like the final ovation after the Grosse Fuge that Beethoven wrote to close his B flat Quartet.
La Vanguardia Barcelona Feb 2006