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Home Biography Repertoire Discography Highlights Irvine Arditti

Reviews (in chronological order)

Premieres Reviews Awards CD Appraisal



One word describes it: Indefatigable. Not just Irvine Arditti's achievement of leading a string quartet for four decades, and premiering hundreds of new works, but also his 40th birthday party: An 11 hour day with three concerts showcasing 15 incredibly challenging avante-garde pieces (three of them world premieres) performed by the same four players. Just looking at the programme made me feel exhausted, yet Arditti thrives on delivering scores so fiendish that the notes swim before your eyes. I was mesmerised; first by the technical brilliance of their playing and the passion that this quartet brings even to the knotiest modern score, but also by how much works that baffled me in the 1970's and '80's now sound like familiar classics.

The Times, April 2014

Even a whole day of concerts three programmes containing 15 works, three of them world premieres was hardly enough to convey the full extent of the Arditti Quartet's achievement across four decades, and how the recent history of the form would have been very different without it.

The Guardian, April 2014

Arditti Quartet 40th Birthday, Milton Court: 'a parade of marvels'.

The Telegraph, April 2014

The quartet's performance was instead a spellbinding display of concentrated, fully-absorbed conviction.

Boston Globe, March 2014

Arditti Quartet's Monday Evening Concert at Zipper, part of its 40th anniversary tour, includes work by Elliott Carter and a performance of Helmut Lachenmann's 'Grido' that defies belief. Half of what Arditti did here simply didn't seem physically possible. Apparently it is.

LA Times, March 2014

The burden of time melted away as the Arditti Quartet led us through the intense viscerality of Lachenmann's musical language.

Toronto March 2014

Es war ein großer, ja sensationeller Konzertabend, der Maßstäbe setzte (it was a great, yes sensational concert evening which set new standards) ; Die Ardittis...agierten auf einem geradezu schwindelerregendem Spitzenniveau (The Ardittis performed at a dizzyingly top class level) ; ..das alles ließ einen mehr als einmal  den Atem anhalten vor Bewunderung ( The way they interpreted the music... took one's breath away more than once).

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  July 2008


The Arditti Quartet were spellbinding.

The Times July 2008  

The Arditti played the six little pieces of Kurtag's Moments Musicaux with fabulous concentration, making every silence speak volumes, but then their command of every challenge this programme threw at them was astonishing.

The Guardian  January 2007

The world's pre-eminent contemporary music quartet.

The Guardian, April 2005

I don't think there is an ensemble alive that could play this program with the kind of uncompromising finesse and authority that the Arditti Quartet displayed on Saturday night. One could not ask for a richer, more erudite and yes, more passionate demonstration of what contemporary string quartet writing is all about, than this magnificently conceived evening. Four different works, all with the capacity to make even expert musicians sweat bullets, were served up about as perfectly as anyone can expect. These four musicians' collective intellectual background, technical command and interpretive confidence all combined to make an evening that might be a model of contemporary quartet performance.

Seen and Heard International Recital Review

Zankel Hall , New York City, December 4th, 2004

There is no more competant formation in this field in the whole globe

Badische Zeitung, November 2004

It is impossible to overstate the impact of the Arditti Quartet on the development of contemporary chamber music. The Guardian, June 2002

No one plays the modern quartet repertoire with the authority of the Arditti. The Daily Telegraphy, June 2001

As it has done for more than a quarter-century with astonishing virtuosity and bravery, the Arditti Quartet continues to treat music as something of crucial importance and endless amazement. LA Times, May 2001

What is so extraordinary about the playing of the Ardittis is its technical mastery, allied with a profound understanding of how the music is built up. The Guardian, June 2000

Throughout its 25-year existence the Arditti Quartet has been an invaluable performing voice, not only for established composers but also for young, less famous ones, for whom a performance by this renowned ensemble is a firm seal of approval. The Strad, May 2000

I’ve given up groping for fresh superlatives to describe the Arditti’s music-making. They are way beyond praise. Daily Telegraph, November 1999

I caught riveting, surely perfect performances of Ligeti’s Second Quartet and Xenakis’s Tetras.

The Independent December 1999

In the space of an hour the fabulous Ardittis encapsulated the versatility of quartet form and the Contemporary Music Festival’s ideas of continuity in development and imagination. Huddersfield Daily Examiner, November 1999

It is largely because of the extraordinary skill and dedication of the Arditti Quartet – which has specialised in new music throughout the last quarter of the century – that the string quartet is such a prominent feature of the contemporary musical scene. However difficult a piece might be, if it is competently written they can play it, and they must have given hundreds of first performances in their time. In most cases they have not just played the notes but, through a rare combination of instinct and analysis, illuminated character and structure as well. The Times, November 1999

The Arditti’s ‘unique selling point’ is its vast and diverse range of contemporary repertoire, including music of fearsome complexity. Classical Music, June 1999

Irvine Arditti and the changing collection of players he has grouped around him over [the last] quarter-century have […] done much to keep the quartet medium alive, well and kicking in the late-20th century, and I hope we hear more of their scrupulously prepared and ever-vital performances in concert this year than has recently been the case in this country. The Independent, February 1999

The Arditti players manage to say more in a couple of bow strokes than some concerts communicate in total. The Sunday Times, February 1999

The exemplary performances were a tribute to the knife-edge virtuosity and extraordinary dedication of […] splendid artists. Chicago Tribune, December 1998

Few errors of omission are as serious, or as senseless, as sidestepping the treasures on your own doorstep. But in the case of a valuable creative institution like the London-bred Arditti String Quartet, there can be no excuses for blinkered vision. […] Britain’s most innovative small chamber group deserves more in the way of national recognition. The Independent, November 1998

Modern-minded, innovative too - and certainly adventurous. […] The Arditti’s leading priority is to encourage people to write well for the medium, support quality music and enter into the closest possible artistic relationship with those composers who they choose to champion. The Independent, November 1998

Boldly travelling paths down which other musicians have neither the temperament nor technique to go. Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, November 1998

In precision of tuning and unanimity of ensemble, the Arditti Quartet remains almost unique. Its commitment to everything it does is so total the players convince you that even the most boldly experimental work belongs to the mainstream of music’s ongoing history, and to the mainstream of human feeling. The Boston Globe, August 1998

Peerless interpreters of the cutting edge. Billboard, May 1998

Masters of contemporary chamber music in any of the most daunting styles you can name. LA Weekly, April 1998

As disciplined and powerful sounding as ever. Los Angeles Times, March 1998

The Arditti String Quartet is a composer’s – and audience’s – dream. The Globe and Mail, March 1998

To hear the quartet tear through a recent score is to hear it in the best possible light, done with a rare combination of precision and passion. The Chronicle, March 1998 


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