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The Medici Quartet





Formed in 1973 at the Royal Academy of Music, the Medici Quartet established itself as a leading international ensemble and built up an extensive distinguished discography of well over 40 recordings.

Early on they were taken under the wing of the legendary English pianist Sir Clifford Curzon with whom they developed a unique musical collaboration.

 



As well as their highly regarded Beethoven Quartets Cycle on Nimbus Records they championed and recorded many other more neglected works including the seldom heard Saint-Saëns Quartets.

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout their career they also participated in many creative musical projects with such outstanding artists as saxophonist Barbara Thompson (Virgin Records), Sarod player Wajahat Khan (Nimbus Records), the late great George Martin also recorded a CD with them, the legendary clarinetist, Jack Brymer recorded the Mozart and Brahms clarinet 5tets and John Lill also joined them in recording the Brahms piano quintet.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Their popular dramatic programmes for string quartet and actors, directed by John Caird and Cordelia Monsey explored the intimate relationship between the composer's life through letters, diaries and their compositions.

Programmes included:

‘The Kingdom of the Spirit’: Beethoven through his Letters by John Caird.

Michael Kennedy's programme about Sir Edward and Lady Elgar at Brinkwells entitled ‘Wood Magic’.

'Hymn' by Alan Bennet and George Fenton (BBC Records)


These unique programmes attracted many of the principle classical actors of their generation such as John Thor, Sheila Hancock, Derek Jacobi, Tim West, Prunella Scales, Dorothy Tutin, Eleanor Bron and many other.


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 developed his fascination into music and brain science.

This series revealed the power of music in human life, cognitive and emotional development and health.

 

 



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).

‘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.

 

 

 


 

 

The Medici Quartet

Timeline

 

1968   Paul accepts scholarship to Royal Academy of Music

 

1971   Medici Quartet formed at the Royal Academy of Music.

           Paul Robertson, violin David Matthews, violin Paul Silverthorne,viola Anthony Lewis, ’cello

 

1973   Quartet debut in the Wigmore Hall, London. Awarded 3 year Quartet Residency at York University.

 

1975   Signed by EMI records. Teaching residency at Kingston University (UK).

           Starts playing with pianist Clifford Curzon.

 

1976   Performance series with the Royal Shakespeare Company based on composer’s lives.

           Directed by John Caird and Cordelia Monsey.

 

1979   Visiting residency at the University of Lancaster.

 

1982   Ivo-Jan van der Werff takes over as violist.

 

1988-90   Complete Beethoven quartet cycle for Nimbus Records.

 

1991   Colin Callow takes over as 2nd violinist.

 

1993   Cathy Thompson takes over as 2nd violinist.

 

1996   End of residency at Lancaster University.

 

1996   TV series, ‘Music and the Mind’, written and presented by Paul.

           Appointed artists-in-residence at the University of Surrey.

           Cathy Thompson leaves quartet for family reasons. Steve Morris takes over as second violin.

 

2000   Cathy Thompson rejoins quartet as second violinist.

 

2007   Paul leaves quartet after final Beethoven cycle at Petworth Festival.

 

2008   Paul returns to lead quartet’s ‘farewell’ concert tour

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2009   Quartet reconvenes to play Tavener’s Towards Silence.

 

2013   First performance of Tavener’s Scatter Roses over my Tears.

 

2016   Farewell presentation/performance at the Wigmore Hall.

 

 

 

Medici CD Recordings

MEDICI STRING QUARTET
COMPILATION; RAVEL, SHOSTAKOVICH no 8, JANACEK no 1 ‘KREUTZER SONATA’, SMETANA no 1 ‘FROM MY LIFE’, BRITTEN no 3, (2 CDs) Koch Classics 3-6436-2

BEETHOVEN; Complete String Quartets plus Viola Quintet with Simon Rowland-Jones Nimbus Records NI 1785 (8 CD set)

Alan BENNETT; ‘Hymn’ memoirs with music by George FENTON, played by the Medici Quartet. BBC Audio books

BRAHMS; Piano Quintet with John Lill, Clarinet Quintet with Jack Brymer, Whitehall MSQCD 8001

BRITTEN; Oboe Quartet, FINZI Oboe Quintet with Robin Cantor Carlton Classics

Alan BUSH; ‘Dialectic’ for String Quartet Hyperion

Philip CANNON; String Quartet, Clarinet Quintet with David Campbell, String Sextet with Jane Atkins and Melissa Phelps Olympia OCD 623

DEBUSSY; Quartet, SHOSTAKOVICH Quartet no 8 Nimbus NI

ELGAR; Piano Quintet with John Bingham, String Quartet in E minor Whitehall MQCD 7002

ELGAR; Piano Quintet with John Bingham, String Quartet in E minor Meridian Records ECD84082

ELGAR; Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra, Oxford Orchestra da Camera Whitehall MQCD 4002

ELGAR; ‘Wood Magic’ a program of words and music with Richard Pasco and Barbara Leigh Hunt. Whitehall MSQCD

FRANCK; Piano Quintet with John Bingham, FAURE Quartet op 121 Nimbus Records NI 5114

HAYDN; String quartets op 20 nos 1-6 (2 CDs) Whitehall MQCD 5001/2

HAYDN; String quartets op 33 nos 1-6 (2 CDs) Koch (to be reissued)

JANACEK; Quartets 1 & 2, Nimbus Records NI 5113

JANACEK; Quartets 1 & 2, FAURE Quartet op 121 Nimbus Records NI 5379 (reissue)

GEORGE MARTIN; Arrangements with Howard Blake, Dudley Moore, Jack Brymer, John Williams John Dankworth etc Classic FM CFMCD 5

Usko MERULAINEN; String Quartets 1 & 2 Finlandia

MOZART; Journey to Prague, a musical play with Dorothy Tutin and Richard McCabe, written by Colin Wilson Whitehall MQCD 6005

MOZART; Quartets K465 ‘Dissonance’ in C major, K428 in E flat Whitehall MSQCD6002

MOZART; Quartets K421 in D minor, K387 in G major Whitehall MSQCD 6004

MOZART; Quartet 499 in D major, Clarinet Quintet with Jack Brymer Whitehall MSQCD

MUSIC & THE MIND; Music from the channel 4 television series by the Medicis (Ravel, Britten, Smetana, Beethoven, Janacek etc) Koch Schwann 3-6437-2

RAVEL; Quartet, STRAUSS ‘Capriccio’ for String Sextet with Michael Cookson and Moray Welsh. Nimbus NI

SCHUBERT; String Quartet no. 15 in G D887, Quartetsatz in C minor D103 Koch Schwann 3-6776-2

SCHUBERT; ‘Death and the Maiden’ D810, DVORAK; ‘American’ op 96 Whitehall MSQCD 9001

SCHUBERT; String Quintet with Melissa Phelps, cello, Quartet in B flat, Whitehall MSQCD

SHOSTAKOVICH; Piano Quintet with John Bingham, MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in A minor op 13 Nimbus Records NI

SAINT-SAENS; String Quartets 1 & 2 Koch Schwann 3-6484-2

SMETANA; String Quartets 1 & 2 Nimbus Records NI 5131

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS; Phantasy Quintet with Simon Rowland-Jones, viola; String Quartets 1 & 2 Nimbus Records NI5191

WAJAHAT KAHN; Indian Dreams for Sarod and String Quartet Koch Scwann 3-6996-2

KURT WEILL; Song Arrangements with Barbara Thompson, saxaphone Virgin Classics VC 5 45167 2


 


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