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The delicate perfection of the sound was a marvel, and in leader Oliver Heath’s hands the recurring dropping figure had an exquisite tenderness [Schumann Quartet No.3].
Daily Telegraph Wigmore Hall March 2012
Brahms scales new heightsI never know whether to be cross or thrilled when I’m blown away by music that I know I don’t like. It happened at the Wigmore Hall on Thursday. Stephen Hough, masterly pianist (and Telegraph blogger), was paired with the youthful Heath Quartet to play the Brahms Piano Quintet. Normally this composer’s dark brown chamber music bores me senseless, but the Heath played with a demonic energy that sent Hough into a frenzy of his own. As the two of them charged at each other, the Italian lady next to me clutched my arm. And when the piece finished, she clapped like a nervous tourist applauding the pilot at the end of a turbulent flight. Honestly, I never knew Brahms had it in him.
Damian Thompson/Daily Telegraph Wigmore Hall March 2012
Quintessential chamber music returned to the hall soon after Christmas in the form of the excellent young Heath Quartet’s concert of string quartets by Beethoven and Schubert, with, in between, the premiere of a work commissioned by the hall from its composer in residence, Luke Bedford (b1978). Their account of Beethoven’s Quartet in E flat, Op 74 (Harp) was suavity itself, and they found the true note of hushed ominousness for Schubert’s haunted A minor “Rosamunde” Quartet (D804).
The Sunday Times Wigmore Hall (30 Dec) January 2012
‘The Heath Quartet’s prayerful concentration really paid off in a performance [Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet] of unforced beauty and tremulous tension, dappled with sudden shadows and anguished nostalgia for happier times. Each player listened closely to each other; each fell in with Schubert’s feelings as a hand fits the perfect glove’.
The Times Wigmore Hall (30 Dec) 3 January 2012
The subtlety of the first violin’s playing as it floated radiantly to the end of Bedford’s piece also distinguished the other works on the programme. The Heath Quartet opened with a graceful performance of Beethoven’s Harp Quartet, Op.74, which had just enough muscle where required. Then, after the Bedford, came the elegiac beauty of Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet in A minor, D.804, where the first violin melodies again sang with such understated eloquence that the fuller colours of the lower instruments almost (but never quite) started to dominate – overall, an enterprising evening.
The Financial Times Wigmore Hall/Luke Bedford premiere (30 Dec) 3 January 2012
‘The concert opened with Beethoven’s E flat major ‘Harp’ Quartet op.74. There was beautiful delicacy and warmth to the first movement, which threw its moments of energy, the homophonic outbursts and the sudden frenzy of semiquaver arpeggios in the first violin into sharp dramatic relief. The second movement had an air of quiet rapture. The minuet, for all its rustic open-heartesness, had a delicate air, and the finale was full of light, deft playing….. Schubert’s quartet, meanwhile, was full of wonderfully long-spun lines. The slow movement unfolded and blossomed seamlessly, and the finale had a gentle lilt’.
The Strad Wigmore Hall/ Luke Bedford premiere (30 Dec) January 2012
The Heath Quartet tackled the complete Beethoven string quartets in ten late-night concerts at Greyfriars Kirk, giving passionate performances that combined technical accomplishment with interpretative flair…The Heath players’ Quartet in D major op.18 no.3 ranged from joyful radiance to serene tranquility, with cellist Christopher Murray injecting just the right amount of spirit into the performance. Their Harp Quartet op.74 was stately and elegant, full of rustic charm and scurrying inner parts, delivered with character by second violin Cerys Jones and viola Gary Pomeroy, and they gave a clear-minded reading of op.135 in F major with a gleeful second movement and wonderfully restrained, glowing third.
The Strad / Complete Beethoven cycle at Greyfriars Kirk Edinburgh / November 2011
The Heath Quartet’s Beethoven cycle continues to be one of the most exciting things in Edinburgh this summer…Throughout the Heath Quartet confirmed their previous impression as fantastically talented musicians who aren’t intimidated by the breadth of these great works but approach them with freshness and winning energy. They deserve to go far.
www.seenandheard-international.com Greyfriars Church / Beethoven Cycle 25 August 2011
'The Heath Quartet contrasted the String Quartet in D, Op.18 No.3 with the later Harp Quartet, Op.74, in joyful, passionate playing that gripped from start to finish.'
The Edinburgh Reporter Greyfriars Church / Beethoven Cycle, August 2011
'The Heath Quartet are undoubtedly destined for a formidable future career.'
The Scotsman, Music at Paxton, July 2011
'One of the best it has been my privilege to attend: it was played [Bruckner String Quintet] with such intelligence and commitment.....a fantastic performance.'
The Bruckner Journal, Barbican / Heath Quartet with Adam Newman, March 2011
'Associate Artists of the Brighton Dome and Festival, the gifted young Heath Quartet treated a lunchtime concert audience to string quartet playing of the highest quality.'
Latest 7 The weekly magazine for Brighton, Hove & Sussex, Pavilion Theatre, May 2010
'It was a performance exceptional in its perception [Debussy], alive to every detail of a work at one time rather underrated but breathing from start to finish the Frenchness of French music.'
The Herald Queen's Hall Edinburgh, December 2009
'This was a very fine performance indeed, the long slow movement [Beethoven Op.132] finding these players as one, and at the top of their impressive form. This performance surely marks out the Heath Quartet as being one of the finest of their generation.'
Musical Opinion, Purcell Room, Nov-Dec 2008
'The Heath Quartet displayed a rare musicality... A keen interpretive insight combined with refined playing, this is one of the most interesting young quartets I have heard in recent years.'
The Strad Magazine, September 2007
'...the music's potency and bravura were conveyed with thrilling conviction.'
The Guardian, January 2007
The Heath Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting and original voice on the international chamber music scene. In 2011 they were awarded a prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship.
In May 2013 the Heath Quartet became the first ensemble in 15 years to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists Award.
The Heath Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting and original voice on the international chamber music scene, in 2012 winning the Ensemble Prize at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. Selected for representation by YCAT in 2008 they immediately went on to win 1st Prize at the Tromp International Competition in Eindhoven and 2nd Prize at the Haydn International Competition in Vienna. In 2011 they were awarded a Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship and in the same year undertook complete Beethoven Quartet cycles at the Fàcyl Festival in Salamanca Spain and at Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh. The Quartet were presented with a Bank of Scotland Herald Angel Award after unanimous praise from The Herald’s music critics in Edinburgh.
Highlights over the last year have included recitals at Wigmore Hall as part of the Emerging Talent scheme (supported by Mayfield Valley Arts Trust), including the premiere of a new work by Luke Bedford and collaborations with Stephen Hough and Ian Bostridge. The Quartet made their debut at the Kissingen Winterzauber, Schwetzinger and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festivals, the deSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp, Berlin Konzerthaus and Stadttheater in Grein, and appeared at the Salisbury, Spitalfields and Peasmarsh Festivals. They also toured throughout the Netherlands and Argentina, returned to Banff and worked with the Florestan Piano Trio, Tokyo Quartet, Colin Currie, Michael Collins, Joanna MacGregor, Bram van Sambeek and composers Brett Dean and Steven Mackey.
Future plans include complete Tippett and Bartók cycles and a recital with the soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci at Wigmore Hall, their debut at the Louvre in Paris and Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and return visits to the Concertgebouw and their USA debut. During the 2012/13 season they take part in the Music in the Round Around the country scheme appearing at venues throughout the UK. The Quartet are currently Senior Chamber Music Fellows at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Over the last two years the Quartet has given recitals at major festivals and venues throughout Europe including Barbican, Bridgewater Hall, Sage Gateshead, Perth Concert Hall and Queen’s Hall Edinburgh, the Musikverein, Konzerthaus, Esterházy Palace (Vienna) and Vara Konserthus (Sweden). They have given BBC Radio 3 broadcasts from Birmingham Town Hall, the Cosmo Rodewald Hall in Manchester and Bath Festival and been resident Quartet at the Brighton Dome. In 2010 the Quartet recorded their first CD at the Muziekcentrum Frits Philips and gave recitals in Italy and Shanghai.
The Heath Quartet was formed in 2002 at the Royal Northern College of Music, under the guidance of the late Dr. Christopher Rowland and Alasdair Tait, with whom they continued their studies at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. They have undertaken residencies at IMS Prussia Cove with András Schiff and Erich Höbarth and at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh.
During their studies at the RNCM the Quartet won all the major ensemble prizes and were Leverhulme Junior Fellows between 2008-10. Other teachers have included Gábor Takács-Nagy and members of the Alban Berg, Smetana, Endellion, Lindsay and LaSalle Quartets.
The Quartet has enjoyed working with several leading composers including Louis Andriessen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Anthony Gilbert and Hans Abrahamsen, the latter in a Radio 3 broadcast from the Proms. They took part in the European premiere of Steve Mackey’s ‘Gaggle and Flock’ for string octet, and received unanimous critical acclaim for their performance of Ligeti’s Quartet No.2 and Thomas Ades’ Arcadiana for The Park Lane Group at the Purcell Room.