Navarra String Quartet

Chamber Ensemble

"the excellent Navarra String Quartet"

The Guardian

"...They have a warmly-rounded and very expressive sound, perfectly suited to Haydn: on this showing, they are already in the first rank of his music’s exponents..."

The Independent

"the Navarra Quartet who deliver compelling performances."

BBC Music Magazine

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Since its formation in 2002, the Navarra Quartet has built an international reputation as one of the most dynamic and poetic string quartets of today. Selected for representation by the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) from 2006 to 2010, they have been awarded the MIDEM Classique Young Artist Award, a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship, a Musica Viva tour, Second Prize at the Melbourne International Competition and First Prize in the Florence International Chamber Music Competition and Third Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition (2013).

The Navarra Quartet has appeared at major venues throughout the world including the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Berlin Konzerthaus, and international festivals such as Bath, Grachten, Sandviken, Schwetzinger, Rheingau, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Huntingdon (Australia),  Aix-en-Provence, Bellerive and the BBC Proms. Further afield they have given concerts in Russia, the USA and the Middle East and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, RAI 3 (Italy), Radio 4 (Holland), SWR (Germany), Radio Luxembourg and ABC Classic FM (Australia). The Quartet has collaborated with artists such as Li-Wei, Anthony Marwood, Guy Johnston, Mark Padmore, Allan Clayton, Bram van Sambeek, Francesco Piemontesi, John O’Conor, Jack Liebeck, Simone Young and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Highly-acclaimed recordings include Haydn’s The Seven Last Words for Altara Records and a disc of Pēteris Vasks’ first three String Quartets for Challenge Records, which they recorded whilst working closely with the composer himself. The recording was described by critics as “stunning”, “sensational” and “compelling”, and was nominated for the prestigious German Schallplattenkritik Award. Earlier in 2013, the Navarra Quartet recorded a disc for NMC Records featuring the music of Joseph Phibbs, released in May.

Formed at the Royal Northern College of Music, they commenced their studies under the guidance of Alasdair Tait and the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. Their development continued with studies in Cologne with the Alban Berg Quartet, Pro-Quartet in Paris, the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove and from residencies at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh and at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. 

The Navarra Quartet is the recipient of the ChamberStudio Mentorship 2013, generously supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund. Combined with their constant desire for evolution, the mentorship has allowed them to continue working with renowned musicians such as Eberhard Feltz, David Waterman and Ferenc Rados.

The Quartet plays on a variety of fine instruments which include a Hieronymus II Amati and Fendt violins, an unknown, old English viola and a Ruggieri cello. They launched its own chamber music festival in 2014 at the beautifully renovated Van Houten Church, in the picturesque town of Weesp, close to Amsterdam.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Utzon Music Series

Sydney Opera House, March 2016

It is hard to imagine this work [Vasks' String Quartet No.3] being played better [...] The Navarras gave us a gorgeous performance with astute attention to every detail.

Steve Moffatt, Limelight Magazine

Chichester University Haydn Lecture Recital with Terry Barfoot

November 2015

The Navarra’s performance [of Haydn's 'Sunrise' Quartet] was wonderfully lyrical and full of light and shade. The second movement, a grave Adagio, began with a hushed, intense opening and as the movement developed, the interplay of the instruments, with the highly expressive first violin and cello, was superb. The minuet with its bucolic trio provided a perfect contrast, the players animated and rhythmical. The concluding Allegro ma non troppo was a treat, building superbly to the exultant final coda. [...] The Navarra are at the top of their game. Their integrated playing and fine ensemble are quite brilliant.

Chris Hough, Chichester Observer

Presteigne Festival 2015

St Andrew's Church, Presteigne; August 2015

The extraordinary realisation of this exquisite and enchanting composition, was roundly appreciated – but surely no surprise, as the pedigree of the artists, Navarra Quartet is undeniable.

Andrew Doyle, Hereford Times

The Navarra Quartet were joined by pianist Tom Poster for Dvorák’s Piano Quintet. All five performers were positively on fire for this imperishable romantic chamber work, playing with a passionate sweep that carried the audience along with them. A great evening.

Peter Reynolds, Hereford Times

But the most memorable of the new things I experienced was a string quartet (his second) by Joseph Phibbs, which was the centrepiece of an outstanding recital by the Navarra Quartet – an ensemble who play with the best kind of nervous energy and freewheeling excitement. Phibbs’ quartet required nothing less: it was exhilarating, vibrant, curiously but effectively constructed, and an unequivocal success on terms that brand new chamber music rarely manages.

Michael White, Catholic Herald

Mendelssohn ‘Complete Works for String Quartet’ - String Quartet No. 3, Op.44 No.1

Champs Hill Records CHRCD085

the immaculately executed white-knuckle ride set up by the Navarras.


... a true delight to me to find ten groups of young string players who take the composer's notes seriously...

BBC Music Magazine*****

The Navarra Quartet, almost matching the wistful sweetness of the Artemis Quartet in Mendelssohn’s D major Quartet Op.44 No. 1

BBC Radio 3 CD Review, Andrew McGregor

St George’s Bristol, Beethoven and Borodin Recital

May 2014

Right from the opening bars, the Navarra Quartet revealed their special quality: a sweet well-knit sound and impeccable intonation.

Helen Reid, The Bristol Post

Banff International String Quartet Competition, Third Prize

August 2013

And we cannot forget the Navarra Quartet, who gave us so many memorable performances this past week, including a moving and brilliant reading of Vivian Fung’s Quartet No. 3, and a masterly accounting of Britten’s Third String Quartet that will stay with me forever. Their interpretation of the Beethoven Razumovsky E minor quartet was replete with nuanced dynamics and articulation, ultimately scaffolding a sense of phrasing that was constantly supple, and never overworked. Perhaps what I appreciated most about Navarra’s playing, both yesterday and throughout the competition, was that they led me to always wonder what would happen next. Even though one may already know the notes full well of a given piece, I always came away with the sense that Navarra had something new to teach me every time I listened to them.

Calgary Herald

When the Navarra Quartet (UK/Ireland/the Netherlands) took their places as the fifth group and last to play before intermission, I was quite unprepared for how they would interpret Ms. Fung’s score. Over the years, denizens of this tri-ennial competition know that ten quartets will likely give ten vastly different offerings of the CBC/Banff Centre co-commissioned work, that it will be challenging but still idiomatically written for strings, difficult to execute, and filled with interpretively dangerous waters which these young artists must navigate. But I was not expecting the wonderful reading given by the Navarra Quartet. In their accounting, I could also recall Ms. Fung’s eloquent anguish during her pre-concert talk over the Connecticut school shootings whose reports we horribly witnessed last year, in addition to the tremendous world conflict that she was documenting, relevant at this moment in Syria, all against a backdrop of her own personal revelations about her family’s history and its journeys of struggle. Indeed, this work could one day be nicknamed along the lines of String Quartet No. 3 - the “Dark Journeys” quartet. Navarra Quartet transfixed me with its beautiful conveyance of the composer’s interior world immediately from the start when they played the opening cluster chord. They understood the Middle Eastern prayer sections and the mixed narratives inspired by Schnittke’s chamber works (one of Ms. Fung’s favourite composers and one of mine too), which often contain scalding evocations of confronting mortality. These were juxtaposed frequently with slower sections that could be heard as chordal echoes of the transcendent mystical parallelism found in many of Messaien’s compositions, which required pellucid playing. Contrasting textured sections were frequently punctuated by furious bowing, glissandi, bowslap, rapid arpeggiation, and a whole host of requisite idiomatic features demanded of the performers.

Calgary Herald

the Navarra Quartet brought me to tears with Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 3, from 1975. They captured his slow and at times angry dance with mortality with remarkably tightly contained power.

Musical Toronto

Schoenberg Concerto, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain / Simone Young

Royal Festival Hall, 13 April 2013

the excellent Navarra String Quartet

The Guardian

Auditorium du Louvre - Mozart, Levinas and Debussy.

5 October 2012

the exquisite sonority of the instruments was remarkable[...] It was striking that this was a quartet of young players playing a young quartet [Mozart K.159], as their sound was one of very mature instrumental mastery. The players showed with precision and firmness the joyful mixture of intimacy and openness. The musicians played seamlessly and meticulously, never hesitating before the composer’s [Debussy] extremely original chromaticism [...] The timbre and the colours were stunning

Vasks String Quartets Nos 1-3

Challenge Classics CC 72365

All three works, recorded in the presence of the composer, are projected with almost graphic immediacy by the Navarra Quartet who deliver compelling performances captured here in extremely vivid sound. Overall, then, this disc comes hotly recommended.

Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine

They play this repertoire with the utmost conviction, and judging by the photo in the book, to the satisfaction of the composer.

Siebe Riedstra, Luister, November 2010

The playing is nothing short of sensational, the precision and enormous dynamics absolutely thrilling, as is the clarity of recording., October 2010

We can be very brief about the Navarra Quartet: Amazing!

PS Mania Klassiek, October 2010

The stunning performance compensates a lot. The Navarra has specialized in a finely polished expression. Flawless intonations bring a sonority that causes a sensation in itself.

Thiemo Wind, De Telegraaf, October 2010

…this young UK-based ensemble understands his music down to the microsecond, and plays at a level that can be characterized as exceptional…

Volkskrant, September 2010

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