Performance Friday, March 23, 2012 | 7:30 PM

Elias String Quartet

Weill Recital Hall
The members of the Elias String Quartet have “revealed themselves as superb exponents of Mendelssohn’s music” (The Sunday Times, London). In addition to Mendelssohn’s “Ist es wahr?” Quartet, they also perform works by Mozart and Janácek.


  • Elias String Quartet
    ·· Sara Bitlloch, Violin
    ·· Donald Grant, Violin
    ·· Martin Saving, Viola
    ·· Marie Bitlloch, Cello


  • MOZART String Quartet in A Major, K. 464
  • JANÁCEK String Quartet No. 1, "Kreutzer Sonata"
  • MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, "Ist es wahr?"


  • Elias String Quartet

    Sara Bitlloch, Violin
    Donald Grant, Violin
    Martin Saving, Viola
    Marie Bitlloch, Cello

    The Elias String Quartet takes its name from Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah-of which Elias is the German form-and has quickly established itself as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of its generation. The quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where the members worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland; they also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg Quartet. Other mentors have included Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Henri Dutilleux, and Rainer Schmidt.

    The quartet has been chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's prestigious New Generation Artists scheme, and is the recipient of a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. Highlights of the 2009-2010 season included a monthlong tour of Australia, the quartet's first visit to Italy with cellist Alice Neary, and a cycle of Mendelssohn's chamber music at Kings Place, London. This year, the quartet made its debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, toured throughout Europe with pianist Jonathan Biss, and made appearances at The Sage Gateshead and Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, as well as at the City of London, Cheltenham, and East Neuk festivals. Upcoming engagements include a five-concert series at Wigmore Hall, a US tour, a return to the Concertgebouw, and performances as part of Jonathan Biss's Schumann project.

    With the support of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Elias Quartet has embarked on its Beethoven Project, in which it will perform all 16 Beethoven string quartets, with cycles starting in 2012-2013 at venues that include Southampton, Bristol, Brighton, Norwich, Tonbridge, and London. The quartet will document its journey on a dedicated website,

    The Elias String Quartet has performed with such artists as Michael Collins, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Ralph Kirshbaum, Ann Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Roger Vignoles, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Bernard Gregor-Smith, Ettore Causa, Timothy Boulton, Robin Ireland, Adrian Brendel, and Anthony Marwood, as well as with the Endellion, Jerusalem, and Vertavo quartets. The Elias received second prize and the Sidney Griller prize at the Ninth London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 (as the Johnston String Quartet), and was a finalist at the Paolo Borciani Competition in 2005. For four years, it was quartet-in-residence at Sheffield's Music in the Round as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet.

    The ensemble has released discs by Mozart, Beethoven, and Spohr with Sanctuary Classics and Nimbus. In April 2010, a disc of works by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert on the Wigmore Hall Live label won the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award. The Elias Quartet's debut recording of Mendelssohn's quartets for Sanctuary Classics received wide acclaim, and in September 2009, its performance of Mendelssohn's Quartet, Op. 80, was named best recording on BBC Radio 3's Building a Library. The quartet recently released a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the French label Ambroisie, and Goehr's Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records. Its latest release is a disc of Britten quartets on the Sonimage label.

    More Info


Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor (Presto Adagio)
Elias String Quartet

At a Glance

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  String Quartet in A Major, K. 464

One of the six “Haydn” Quartets dedicated to Mozart’s beloved mentor, the A-Major Quartet dates from January 1785, just before Haydn’s often-quoted remark to Leopold Mozart that his son was “the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.” In his 29th year, Mozart was at the height of his powers as both composer and pianist. Later that year, he would commence work on Le nozze di Figaro, the first of his great operatic collaborations with Lorenzo Da Ponte.

LEOŠ JANÁČEK  String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata”

Autobiographical elements play a conspicuous role in Janáček’s two string quartets, dating from the last five years of his life. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, like the heroine of Tolstoy’s novella TheKreutzer Sonata, the Czech composer sought release in an intense epistolary romance with a younger woman. Yet the First Quartet, inspired by Tolstoy’s story, offers no such consolation. A work of almost unremitting bleakness, it is among Janáček’s most disturbing and deeply felt masterpieces.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN  String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13, “Ist es wahr?”

Written at age 18, the A-Minor Quartet bears the hallmarks of Mendelssohn’s precocious genius in its technical assurance and the confident handling of large-scale forms, reflecting his diligent study of Beethoven’s quartets. The French predilection for Beethoven helps explain why the Op. 13 Quartet became a popular set piece at the Paris Conservatoire. “The pupils there,” Mendelssohn proudly reported to his family, “are practicing their fingers off to play ‘Ist es wahr?’”

Program Notes
This performance is part of Quartets Plus.