Sacconi Quartet

String Quartet

At a glance

Sacconi Quartet

String Quartet

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.

Biography —

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 and Associate Artist at the Bristol Old Vic.

The 2015/16 season saw the Quartet focusing on the works of Jonathan Dove, Graham Fitkin and John McCabe, culminating in CD recordings of all three composers. Their commission with Mark Padmore of Jonathan Dove’s new song cycle In Damascus, with words by Syrian poet Ali Safar, was premiered in Folkestone, Aldeburgh and London. Other highlights of last season included return performances at William Walton’s house in Ischia, Italy, and collaborations with Freddy Kempf, Charles Owen, Roger Chase, Pierre Doumenge, Miloš Karadaglić, Tim Boulton, Simon Rowland-Jones, Garfield Jackson and David Waterman. They also recorded John McCabe’s Horn Quintet, written for them and David Pyatt in 2011.

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”.

Now in its tenth year, the Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone, Kent is an established event in the cultural calendar and is expanding year on year with challenging programming and exciting collaborations. 2016’s festival featured Jonathan Dove as resident composer and included a rare performance of Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet with twelve players.

Firm believers in the importance of bringing chamber music to the next generation, the Sacconi Quartet dedicates much passion, time and energy to education work. They regularly lead workshops and give school and family concerts as part of the Sacconi Chamber Music Festival outreach programme and the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust. Their latest project, an educational show entitled The String Thing, with script by Matthew Sharp, went down a storm wherever it was performed.

The Quartet’s recording of Beethoven Op. 132 and Mendelssohn Op. 13, the first commercial pairing of these closely related works, was recently released on Sacconi Records, and received a 5-star review in Classical Music. The previous release, a disc of Czech quartets, was received with widespread critical acclaim and is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. The Quartet’s debut recording of Haydn’s opus 54 quartets was praised in the press and both their Ravel and Haydn CDs were featured in The Full Works programme on Classic FM. They have also recorded for Signum, NMC and Champs Hill Records, and their 2006 Naxos recording of Finzi’s song cycle By Footpath and Stile with baritone Roderick Williams was well received in all the national broadsheets and BBC Music Magazine.

To date, the Quartet has given twenty-two world premières and four British premières, including works by György Kurtág, Paul Patterson, John McCabe, Simon Rowland-Jones, Robin Holloway, John Metcalf and Alun Hoddinott, and they performed as the solo string quartet on Paul McCartney’s hit song Come Home. The Sacconi Quartet has been joined on stage by many artists including Pekka Kuusisto, Melvyn Tan, Andrew Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Guy Johnston, Alasdair Beatson, Tom Poster, Matthew Rose, Bellowhead’s Jon Boden and actor Timothy West. The Sacconi Quartet has performed at all the major London venues and has travelled extensively throughout the rest of the UK and Europe. The Quartet toured to the Middle East in 2009, where they were invited by the British Council to give concerts and workshops in Jordan’s capital city, Amman.

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.

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Reviews —

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 engaging

The Times

A quartet of genuine substance

The 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 detail

Musical Opinion

Great power and sweetness…intimate closeness.

The Spectator

Enviable technical prowess

The Strad

Selected Discography —

Jonathan Dove: In Damascus

This important release cannot be recommended too highly.

Gramophone Magazine - Recording of the Month, August 2017

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.

The Observer

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.

The Times

Haydn String Quartets opus 54 (no.1, 2 &3)

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.

International Record Review

Ravel: String Quartet in F / Lalo: String Quartet, opus 45 / Turina: Prayer of the Bullfighter

The finest version of the Ravel Quartet currently available

MusicWeb International
See full discography

Related Media —

Sacconi Chamber Music Festival 2016

Highlights from the ninth Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone from 20-22 May 2016, which included the world premiere of Jonathan Dove's 'In Damascus' for the Sacconi Quartet and tenor Mark Padmore. View on YouTube


An 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.

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Contact —


  • Eloise Shouls