Nominated for the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Chamber Music Award, the Royal String Quartet is one of the most dynamically developing string quartets in the world today. Its repertoire combines outstanding musical works of the past with contemporary music, bravely pushing musical genres. The Royal String Quartet receives enthusiastic reviews for its interpretations of Beethoven, Szymanowski, Shostakovich, Górecki but also plays an important part in promoting lesser known Polish music in the world, for instance, the music of Zarębski, Różycki and Bacewicz. The RSQ collaborates with exceptional artists in various genres of music and is not afraid to cross over into the realm of pop culture.
The RSQ was established at The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw in 1998 and initially worked under the supervision of Professor Ryszard Duź from the Wilanów String Quartet. The RSQ’s artistic identity was shaped by post-graduate masterclasses with the Alban Berg Quartet at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne (2001-2004). Crucial artistic guidance was also provided by members of the Camerata, Amadeus and Chilingirian String Quartets. The critical breakthrough in the RSQ’s career came with the invitation to join BBC Radio 3’s prestigious New Generation Artists scheme (2004-2006) which promotes the most talented young musicians from all over the world. This involved participation in festivals, recordings and radio broadcasts, and performances with other participants of the scheme. Some of the most important achievements in the RSQ’s career include winning competitions in Casale Monferrato (Italy), Cracow (Poland), Kuhmo (Finland) and Banff (Canada). The quartet also received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, given to outstanding musicians to help them develop their international careers.
The first international album of the RSQ, recorded for Hyperion, was released in January 2009. It consisted of both Karol Szymanowski’s quartets and it also included a relatively unknown quartet by Ludomir Różycki (world premiere recording). It was hailed as the album of the month by “BBC Music Magazine” and received enthusiastic press reviews all over the world. Another achievement came with the release of the Quartet’s next album, this time with complete recordings of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s string quartets (Hyperion 2011). Critics consider this to be one of three most important interpretations of the repertoire, was Editor’s Choice in “Gramophone” and received high praise in “BBC Music Magazine”, “Diapason” (5 stars) and “The Strad”.
The Quartet’s recordings have also been released by DUX and BeArTon and two featured on the cover of “BBC Music Magazine”. The “Kayah and Royal Quartet” album (Kayax/Agora 2010) was a big success in the Polish market, while the RSQ has received two Polish Society of Phonographic Industry “Fryderyk” Awards. Hyperion’s next album with string quartets of Witold Lutosławski and Krzysztof Penderecki will be released in early 2013.
The RSQ is also famous for successful collaborations with exceptional musicians of all ages: Angela Hewitt, Sir Thomas Allen, Mark Padmore, Urszula Kryger, Stephen Kovacevich, Janusz Olejniczak, Antoine Tamestit, Martin Fröst, Klaudiusz Baran, Andrzej Bauer, Łukasz Kuropaczewski, Wojciech Świtała, Kwadrofonik and the Škampa, Camerata and Silesian String Quartets.
The Quartet has performed many times at Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall in London, and also at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, Le Grand Theatre in Bordeaux, Martinů Hall in Prague, Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Konzerthaus in Vienna and Berlin, Sejong Center in Seoul, Beijing Concert Hall, Konserthuset in Stockholm, and also at The Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio and the Warsaw Philharmonic Hall. The RSQ’s concerts have been broadcast by Mezzo TV, Polish Radio 2, BBC Radio 3 and other European radio stations.
The Royal String Quartet has featured in prestigious festivals including the BBC Proms, City of London Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Ireland, Schleswig Holstein and Rheingau Festivals in Germany, Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Sacrum Profanum in Cracow (Poland), Wratislavia Cantas in Wrocław (Poland) and The Perth International Arts Festival in Australia.
The string quartet medium is presented in multiple forms during a series of Kwartesencja concerts that the RSQ organizes each year in Warsaw since 2004. Alongside classical repertoire, contemporary music plays a significant role. The interpretations of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki or George Crumb’s quartets presented during the festival have been widely commented upon. New compositions have been written for the Quartet by Paweł Szymański, Wojciech Blecharz and Andrzej Kwieciński. World premiere performances of the Quartet’s projects have taken place with Kayah, Krzysztof Herdzin, Smolik, DJ Lenar and Warsaw Village Band. “The idea of four young artists for intimate meetings with great music has been an amazing success” – “Gazeta Wyborcza” about Kwartesencja.
Since Autumn 2012 RSQ has been Quartet in Residence at Queen’s University Belfast. It also regularly conducts master classes in the Palace of Rybna. The Quartet has been invited to conduct summer courses in Dartington and at Lake District Summer School (Great Britain). The Royal String Quartet has received a Special Award of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage “in recognition of their contribution to Polish culture.”
“The Royals have a special feeling for texture and colour, which is vital in this music, but an equally strong sense of structure” (“BBC Music Magazine”)
“Firm, full-bodied playing, with a wide range of dynamic, colour and attack, and with all the unexpected twists and turns confidently negotiated” (“Gramophone”)
“The Royal Quartet is outstanding in every respect” (“International Record Review”)