Andrew Watkinson & Ralph de Souza Violins
Garfield Jackson Viola • David Waterman Cello
The Endellion String Quartet is renowned as one of the finest quartets in the world. Three of its original founding members continue to play in the quartet, now in its 38th season. Ralph de Souza joined them thirty years ago in 1986. 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 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, in November 2016, will begin a new series at Balliol College, 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 Endellion 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.
The quartet has also undertaken three short-term residencies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA and coached for MISQA in Montreal. From 2001 to 2010 it was Associate Quartet of the RNCM; and 2011 saw the start of its continuing position as Visiting Quartet in Association with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Released by Warner Classics in its 30th year, the Endellion’s recordings of the complete Beethoven quartets and viola quintets (supported by The Stradivari Trust) included rarely heard works, movements, studies, and fragments for quartet and quintet, as well as Beethoven’s complete early version of Op.18 No.1 and his remarkable quartet arrangement of his Piano Sonata Op.14 No.1. The texts used in these recordings were prepared by the notable Beethoven scholar and editor, Jonathan Del Mar, in collaboration with the quartet. The Observer commented ‘ … these superb musicians respond to the dark undertow so characteristic of Beethoven’s quartets as much as the gentle lyricism which invariably breaks through.’ The Endellion has also recorded works by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Dvořák, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, Walton, Amy Beach, Barber, Foulds, Martinů, Bridge, Britten and Adès. The quartet’s Haydn recording for Warner Classics was called ‘extraordinary’ by International Record Review and its Britten disc was described as ‘enormously moving’ (BBC Music Magazine, 2014) and ‘quartet playing at the top level’ (Luister).
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians concludes that ‘The Endellion is arguably the finest quartet in Britain, playing with poise, true intonation, excellent balance and a beautiful tone.’
The quartet won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Best Chamber Ensemble in 1996.