The Medici Quartet
Drawing on 40 years of world class musical performance The Medici Quartet is a leading international ensemble with an extensive distinguished discography.
During their long career they regularly worked with a wide variety of leading composers and performers and created a recorded discography of more than 40 records including a highly regarded Beethoven Quartets Cycle (on Nimbus Records) the seldom heard Saint-Saëns Quartets and many other creative collaborations such as with ,saxophonist Barbara Thompson (Virgin Records), Sarod player Wajahat Khan, 'Hymn' by Alan Bennet and George Fenton (BBC Records), George Martin Presents, The Mozart and Brahms clarinet 5tets with Jack Brymer etc.
It is in order to continue a tradition of such musical 'apprenticeship' that the Quartet now welcome the opportunity to mentor talented young groups by performing with them in Sir John Tavener's remarkable 'Towards Silence'.
At different periods they were also ‘resident’ quartet to the universities of York, Lancaster, Kingston and Surrey.
In 1996 Channel 4 Television broadcast a three-part series entitled Music & the Mind, performed by The Medici Quartet and presented by their leader Paul Robertson; these programmes combined music and science to explore the power of music in human life, cognitive and emotional development and health.
Renowned for their dramatic programmes for string quartet and actors which revealed the intimate relationship between the composer's work and his life & times through the imaginative conjunction of music and readings were initiated by Paul Robertson, ‘The Kingdom of the Spirit’: Beethoven through his Letters by John Caird and Michael Kennedy's programme about Sir Edward and Lady Elgar at Brinkwells entitled ‘Wood Magic’ have been performed many hundreds of times.
Despite formally retiring at the Harrogate International Festival in 2007, The Medici Quartet have since continued to perform together particularly to perform Sir John Tavener's remarkable 'Towards Silence' (which he composed for them) in which they mentor and perform with gifted young quartets. (See Towards Silence section of this website). They have also recently been appearing in another unique piece created for them, 'Hymn' by George Fenton and
‘The playing is full of virtuosic compulsion and energy, harnessed in the service of a grand and dignified conception of the music’ – Gramophone
‘They are one of the most perfectly balanced quartets in Europe today, each strand wonderfully clear and beautifully focused…yet there is always a feeling of spontaneity’ - The Yorkshire Post
Medici Quartet History:
As a young quartet the Medici established an unrivalled reputation in contemporary music, premiering a host of new works. Many leading composers, including Elizabeth Lutyens, John Taverner, Richard Rodney Bennet, Maxwell-Davis etc., dedicated significant compositions to them.
At the start of their career they were mentored by members of the Aeolian Quartet and shortly after their remarkably successful Wigmore hall debut (1974) were taken under the wing of the formidable manager Mrs. Emmy Tillet.
Shortly after they were signed up to an international recording contract with EMI and invited to play with the great English pianist, Sir Clifford Curzon with whom they learnt most of the piano quintet repertoire. It was Curzon who generously took it upon himself to help these four young musicians become something truly artistic.
It was the extraordinary experience of learning Elgar’s Piano Quintet with Curzon that first sparked Paul’s interest in exploring different ways to share with audiences the process of interpretation as well as the performance.
Directed by John Caird (Director of ‘Les Miserables’ and a host of other eminent productions), creative collaborations were established with the principal classical actors of their generation such as John Thor, Sheila Hancock, Derek Jacobi, Tim West, Prunella Scales, Dorothy Tutin, Eleanor Bron and many others