12 Songs, 1 Hour 13 Minutes


About Chiaroscuro Quartet

The Chiaroscuro Quartet, based in England, but with origins all over Europe, has gained a reputation as the top string quartet offering historical performances of Classical-period and early Romantic string quartet repertory. It uses gut strings and historically accurate bows and bowing techniques, producing a sound with sharp, dramatic attacks and little vibrato. All four players have backgrounds in historical performance, but the leader, Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova, has also played contemporary music, and her style does much to shape the sound. The other members are Spanish violinist Pablo Hernán Benedí, Swedish violist Emilie Hörnlund, and French cellist Claire Thirion. The four players knew each other as students at the Royal College of Music in London. The impetus for its formation in 2005 was utilitarian: "The college’s period performance department was funding coaching for string quartets playing classical [era] repertoire," Ibragimova told The Glasgow Herald, so although the members had played only Baroque instruments up to that point, they decided to try. Its first performances, of Mozart, came in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.

The group survived and prospered as the members' individual careers developed. In 2011 it was signed to the Aparte label and released an album of quartets by Mozart -- the String Quartet in C major, K. 465 ("Dissonant"), the bizarre slow introduction of which sounded especially chilling in the Chiaroscuro's hands -- and Schubert. It recorded two more albums for Aparte, both of which won major German awards, and then moved to BIS in 2016 for a two-album cycle of Haydn's Op. 20 quartets. The Chiaroscuro's concert career has featured collaborations with top names in the historical-performance field, including Kristian Bezuidenhout, Trevor Pinnock, Jonathan Cohen, Nicolas Baldeyrou, Chen Halevi, Malcolm Bilson, and Christophe Coin. Its schedule in 2016 and 2017 included stops at major recital halls in Britain, continental Europe, and Japan. ~ James Manheim



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