Signum Quartett - Biography

Signum Quartet

Signum Quartett © Irène Zandel

Signum Quartet

Florian Donderer - violin

Annette Walther - violin

Xandi van Dijk - viola

Thomas Schmitz - violoncello

"I am most excited by this new recording by the Signum quartet of my first quartet Arcadiana. It is a thrill to have this magnificent recording, and to find my piece in the perfect context of the two great masterpieces by Debussy and Ravel. It is an honour for a composer of my generation to be presented in such company. Bravo and many thanks to the Signum Quartet!"

(Thomas Adès on the recording of his „Arcadiana“)

The Signum Quartet has made its mark (lat. signum) on the international quartet scene by virtue of its energetic and lively interpretations, and has established itself as one of today’smost exciting young ensembles. The quartet has enjoyed support from Bayer Kultur as part of its stART cultural programme and as ensemble of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme.

Intensive studies with the Alban Berg Quartet, Artemis Quartet and the Melos Quartet, as well as collaborations with György Kurtág, Walter Levin, Alfred Brendel, Leon Fleisher and Jörg Widmann have characterised the artistic development of the Signum Quartet, a laureate of numerous awards: the German Music Competition, Premio Paolo Borciani, ICMC Hamburg and the London International String Quartet Competition, where they won the Audience Prize.

Chamber music partners of the quartet include Jörg Widmann, Igor Levit, Leonard Elschenbroich, Adrian Brendel, Christian Ihle Hadland, Eckart Runge (Artemis Quartett), Nicolas Altstaedt, Mark Simpson and Carolin Widmann.

The quartet has performed throughout their native Germany including at the Berlin Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Philharmonie Essen and Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philharmonie de Luxembourg, as well as venues across Finland, Norway, Switzerland, France and at the Harvard Musical Association in Boston. At the invitation of the Goethe Institute, the young ensemble embarked on extended tours to Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, and has appeared at music festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Rheingau Music Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, Aldeburgh, BBC Proms, and Aix-en-Provence.

Recently, Bruno Mantovani has writing a new string quartet for the Signum Quartet which has been premiered at the Philharmonie de Paris and will now be performed in Vienna, London, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Amsterdam.

Initiated by the Villa Musica foundation, the quartet was invited to record a CD with the SWR radio station presenting works by Schumann and Haydn, including the world première recording of Jörg Widmann’s 1st String Quartet. In 2009, the Signum Quartet began recording for Capriccio Vienna and their first release - a CD of quartets by Ludwig Thuille - was awarded the Supersonic in Luxemburg, which they followed in 2012 with a recording of movements by Schubert, Rihm, Wolf, Ives and Orff. Their second Capriccio recording ‘No.3’, released in May 2013, presents quartets by Bartók, Schnittke and Berg, and was awarded the International Classical Music Award’s 2014 as ‘Best Chamber Music Recording’. A CD called “soundescapes” with works by Ravel, Debussy and Adès has been released in 2015 (Capriccio). A recording of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances featuring Nils Mönekemeyer followed in the same year (Sony) and the latest CD is called “Alla czeca” (Suk, Schulhoff, Dvorak) and has just been released.

The Signum Quartet has recently launched a project called #quartweet which invites composers of all ages and abilities to tweet them a short quartet of 140 notes or less on Twitter. Composers like Bruno Mantovani, Sebastian Currier, Konstantia Gourzi, Steven Mackey and many more already announced their participation.