At a glance
An exceptional ensemble… a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detail.Musical Opinion
One of the UK's leading string quartets, the award-winning Sacconi Quartet continues to perform with its four founder members. It is celebrated for its creativity, energy and integrity of interpretation.
Ben Hancox violin
Hannah Dawson violin
Robin Ashwell viola
Cara Berridge cello
The award-winning Sacconi Quartet is recognised for its unanimous and compelling ensemble, consistently communicating with a fresh and imaginative approach. Performing with style and commitment, the Quartet is known throughout the world for its creativity and integrity of interpretation. Formed in 2001, its four founder members continue to demonstrate a shared passion for string quartet repertoire, infectiously reaching out to audiences with their energy and enthusiasm. The Quartet have enjoyed a highly successful international career, performing regularly throughout Europe, at London’s major venues, in recordings and on radio broadcasts. The Sacconi is Quartet in Association at the Royal College of Music.
The 2016/17 season saw a major collaboration with the Wihan Quartet, performing Enescu’s Octet alongside those by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn, and culminating in their debut at the Prague Spring Festival. They also completed a major UK tour with clarinettist Robert Plane, and performed throughout Radio 3’s Big Chamber Weekend in Hull alongside James Gilchrist, Anna Tilbrook, Andrew Berridge and Graham Mitchell. The Quartet continued its recording project of music by John McCabe, this time collaborating with Roderick Williams in Silver Nocturnes, and they also performed with Matthew Hunt, Simon Rowland-Jones, Jon Boden and many others.
2017 will see the release of three new CDs by the Sacconi Quartet. In Damascus, their CD of music by Jonathan Dove including In Damascus, commissioned by the Quartet, and featuring Mark Padmore and Charles Owen, has already hit the Classical Top Ten, and was chosen as Gramophone Magazine’s Recording of the Month: “This important release cannot be recommended too highly.” Later in 2017 will see the release of their complete recording of Graham Fitkin’s string quartets on Signum, and their CD of three of John McCabe’s quintets on NMC, featuring the composer on piano in The Woman by the Sea, horn player David Pyatt in the Horn Quintet written for him and the Sacconis, and Roderick Williams in Silver Nocturnes.
2017 also saw the Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone celebrating its tenth year with sell-out concerts and collaborations with Alasdair Beatson, Leon Bosch and Lavinia Meijer. It is now firmly established among the UK’s major chamber music festivals, and attracts audiences from far and near for its vibrant atmosphere and dynamic programming. 2018’s festival will see Graham Fitkin as composer in residence, and collaborations with the London Bridge Trio and others.
In Summer 2015 the quartet launched HEARTFELT, their most innovative project to date. A radical re-interpretation of Beethoven’s iconic String Quartet in A minor opus 132, HEARTFELT pushed the boundaries of chamber music through combining sound, light and touch, for a truly unique performance in which audience members connected with each performer’s heartbeat through holding robotic ‘hearts’. Developed in a unique collaboration with robotics designers Rusty Squid and lighting designer Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn, and funded by Arts Council England, HEARTFELT received 4-star reviews from The Guardian and The Independent, and was described by the latter as “a powerful way to experience the visceral physicality of Beethoven’s profound thanksgiving”. www.heartfelt.org.uk
The name Sacconi Quartet comes from the outstanding twentieth-century Italian luthier and restorer Simone Sacconi, whose book The Secrets of Stradivari is considered an indispensable reference for violin makers. Ben Hancox plays a 1932 Sacconi violin and Robin Ashwell a 1934 Sacconi viola, both made in New York. Hannah Dawson plays a 1927 Sacconi violin made in Rome, and Cara Berridge plays a Nicolaus Gagliano cello from 1781. Ben, Hannah & Cara have all been generously loaned these instruments by the Royal Society of Musicians, a charity which helps musicians in need, for which they are extremely grateful. Robin is indebted to Ellen Solomon for the use of his viola.
This month, three of Ikon Arts Management’s artists feature in Gramophone Magazine. Newly-released CDs by The Sacconi Quartet, Peter Donohoe and The Marian Consort all attract high praise, and The Sacconi Quartet feature again in ‘Critic’s Choice’. Read more
The quartet release two stellar recordings by contemporary composers to round off the year Read more
The Sacconi Quartet's concerts for BBC Radio 3's Big Chamber Weekend will be broadcast this week, as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Read more
Their new disc of works by Jonathan Dove, 'In Damascus', is the Editor's Choice in the August edition of the magazine Read more
The quartet's new disc takes its name from 'In Damascus', a new piece written by Jonathan Dove that looks directly and unwaveringly at the plight of the people caught up in the Syrian conflict. Read more
The overall impact of the work and its performance was profound... their fine balance and near flawless ensemble provided the bedrock for a graceful yet rhythmically vital interpretation.The Guardian
To start the concert, the Sacconi Quartet delighted in Haydn, distinguished by clean, classical playing, often sparing vibrato. Both in Haydn and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, the leader’s delicate phrasing […] were matched in the Death second movement by finely balanced chording and blend from his colleagues […] the Sacconi Quartet is a young group to watch out for.The Classical Source
Quartets are often lauded for their longevity […] so while the Sacconi is a mere toddler at 10 years, the likelihood of them celebrating their fortieth anniversary is worth putting money on.Classic FM Magazine
The Sacconi, a fast rising British string quartet … bring something fresh and distinctive. Dvorak’s American Quartet has a light touch and springy rhythms that suit the music perfectly.The Times
…British Sacconi Quartet provided the musical backdrops, with immaculate playing and precise ensemble, bringing Dealzey’s characterful music to colorful life.The Edinburgh Reporter
Ample vigor in the vivace movements, yet space is allowed to capture the witticism in a turn of phrase; when the mood darkens in the adagio of No. 2 the players provide rich, Gypsy-inflected hues. These are performances to treasure and one awaits eagerly the next release from the ensemble’s new label.Classical Music
A beautiful blend of sound…highly engagingThe Times
A quartet of genuine substanceThe Daily Telegraph
The festival sensation, the young Sacconi Quartet completely bowled over a packed audience. The chemistry between these four young players is tangible and magical.The Scotsman
An exceptional ensemble…a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detailMusical Opinion
Great power and sweetness…intimate closeness.The Spectator
Enviable technical prowessThe Strad
Selected Discography —
Graham Fitkin String Quartets
John McCabe: Silver Nocturnes
Gramophone Magazine - December 2017 (Guy Rickards)
McCabe's partnership with the Sacconi Quartet yields the finest performance of this work I have ever heard... I cannot recommend this strongly enough.
Jonathan Dove: In Damascus
Gramophone Magazine - Recording of the Month, August 2017
This important release cannot be recommended too highly.
Beethoven and Mendelssohn String Quartets
An illuminating pairing… the playing is fresh and pliable, each work illuminating the other… the Sacconi Quartet are front-runners.
Beethoven String Quartets opus 18 (no. 1, 4 & 6)
…hearing the precision and vitality to these quartets makes its success easy to understand […]this is an ensemble to keep an eye on, with hopefully more Beethoven quartets to follow
Suk: Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn Saint Wenceslas, Op. 35a / Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, From My Life / Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, "American
The Sacconi […] bring something fresh and distinctive. Dvorak’s American Quartet has a light touch and springy rhythms that suit the music perfectly.
Haydn String Quartets opus 54 (no.1, 2 &3)
International Record Review
These are fascinating works and the players respond intelligently to the ideas that must have startled the more conventional Parisians […] this is good Haydn playing.
Ravel: String Quartet in F / Lalo: String Quartet, opus 45 / Turina: Prayer of the Bullfighter
The finest version of the Ravel Quartet currently available
Related Media —
HeartfeltAn immersive, interactive performance of Beethoven's String Quartet in A minor Op.132 which pushes the boundaries of chamber music as audience members are invited to hold each performer's heartbeat, through holding robotic 'hearts'. Filmed in 2015.
- Eloise Shouls