Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

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Artist Hyperion Records
Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Founded in 1968 by four Cambridge (England) undergraduates, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet first became well known through their close personal association with Dmitri Shostakovich, who befriended them following a visit to York to hear them play. He entrusted them with the Western premières of his last three quartets, and before long they had become the first ever group to perform and record all fifteen. These recordings, which gained many international awards, secured for them a world wide concert schedule, and a long term contract with Decca/London which culminated in a Beethoven cycle. Indeed, the Shostakovich set was included in Gramophone magazine’s ‘Hundred Greatest-ever Recordings’ in November 2005. They are one of the few string quartets in the world to use Classical instruments for the appropriate repertoire, and perhaps unique in that they perform on both historical and modern set-ups – sometimes within the same concert! Extremely generous private patronage has made possible their current collaboration with Linn Records, which began with Haydn’s The Seven Last Words (Linn CKD153, recorded at Glasserton, Scotland). In July 2001 they made their first ever trip to South Africa, where they gave two concerts in the National Arts Festival at Grahamstown (the second largest in the world, after Edinburgh) – including the world première of Michael Blake’s first quartet. That experience also initiated a renewed interest in contemporary music, which has resulted in nearly thirty additions to the new century’s repertoire. For example, they recently completed a cycle of four annual commissions from the Swaledale Festival, each with strong Yorkshire connections. The first of these was Rachel Stott’s Quiet Earth, based on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, followed in 2003 by Stone from Peter Dyson (a Yorkshireman living in St Petersburg) which actually included the building of a dry stone wall on stage! Next came the turn of Matthew King, who had previously written his first quartet for the Fitzwilliam – first performed at the 2002 Canterbury Festival (a new horn quintet has recently arrived); Duncan Druce completed the series in summer 2005, returning to the Wuthering Heights theme.

Other travels have taken them to Slovenia for the first time, as well as to Munich, where they took part in an international dance film featuring Shostakovich’s last three quartets. There have also been four visits to Russia, which included sharing an all-Tchaikovsky programme with the St Petersburg Klassika Symphony Orchestra, plus concerts in Pushkin’s House, the Sheremetev Palace, and the Summer Palace at Peterhof, as well as at Agora – former home of Modest Tchaikovsky, where his brother regularly stayed: their ‘Green Room’ was the very room where the composer had breakfast with Chekhov! In 2005 they had to miss in their annual Residency for Initiatives of Change in Caux, Switzerland – 2004 having seen the world première there of Carolyn Sparey’s new quartet, inspired by the great potter Bernard Leach. But they returned to Caux in summer 2006, where in 2002 they first collaborated with the German saxophonist Uwe Steinmetz; autumn that year saw them working extensively with his jazz group in Sweden, Switzerland and Germany – where their CD of Steinmetz’s Bonhoeffer Suite was released in 2006; the collaboration continued in Berlin in November 2005. Their trip to the USA in February 2006 included a marathon three-hour event in Lorin Maazel’s private concert hall at his farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. They have been invited to make tours to China and India, and 2006 saw return visits to Spain, Switzerland, the USA, and to Russia for the Shostakovich centenary celebrations. Indeed, it was this special anniversary which, not surprisingly, was at the centre of their activities that year.


Complete works available for download

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