"Here are four young musicians that play with depth and maturity, which, and even this cliché can be swept off the table, does not depend on age."
the Süddeutsche Zeitung
"It was the Esmé’s monumental Schubert Quartet that was the Michelin-starred meal."
Strings Magazine, USA
"The lyricism and airy limpidity of the four performers give these movements a profoundity and unexpected allure."
Diapason, France ★★★★★
Formed in 2016, the Esmé Quartet has rapidly gained a reputation as an ensemble of exceptional achievement and promise. In Spring 2018 the quartet won first prize and four special prizes (Alan Bradley Mozart-Prize, Bram Eldering Beethoven-Prize, the ProQuartet Prize and Prize of the Esterházy Foundation) at the prestigious Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London, and in Autumn 2018 the quartet was named HSBC Laureate of the Académie du Festival d’Aix. This recognition follows prizes at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition 2017, Irene-Steels Wilsing String Quartet Competition 2018 and the 55th Possehl Musikpreis Lübeck 2018. In October 2020, the Esmé Quartet was awarded the Hans-Gál Prize by the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz and the Villa Musica German Music Foundation. They were also named as the first Artists in Residence at the Lotte Concert Hall in Seoul, Korea for 20/21 the season.
The Esmé Quartet has appeared at the Lucerne Festival, the Heidelberg String Quartet Festival, L’Auditori de Barcelona, the Opéra de Lille, Wigmore Hall and St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, the Flagey Musiq3 Festival in Brussels, the Haydn String Quartet Festival in Schloss Esterházy in Fertöd, Hungary, and was resident quartet at the 2018 Aix-en-Provence festival, the 2018 McGill International String Quartet Academy in Montreal and 2019 Classic Esterházy in Eisenstadt, Austria.
Praised for their warm sound and powerful stage presence, the Esmé Quartet was formed at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne, Germany by four Korean musicians who were long-time friends. They shared common interests and passions in music, the arts, and life. The Esmé Quartet brings together four distinct musical personalities with a shared background forming a cohesive, close-knit unit, passionately dedicated to the string quartet repertoire. The ensemble takes its name from an Old French word meaning “loved” or “esteemed.”
Their debut CD including works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Unsuk Chin, and Frank Bridge on the label Alpha Classics was released in early 2020 and has received critical acclaim with a 5-star review from Diapason d’Or and was named as one of the best classical albums of 2020 by the WQXR radio in New York.
Highlights of the 2022/23 season include the Quartet’s first tours of North America, Hong Kong, and Japan, besides concerts at prestigious venues and festivals such as the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.
The German-based Korean quartet has been mentored by artists such as Günter Pichler of the Alban Berg Quartet, Eberhard Feltz, Andraś Keller, Christoph Poppen and Jonathan Brown of the Cuarteto Casals. They continue to work with Heime Müller, former violinist of the Artemis Quartet in Lübeck, Germany.
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