Fitzwilliam Quartet

String Quartet

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Bruckner: Quintet & Quartet

Bruckner: Quintet & Quartet


String Quintet in F major

with James Boyd (violin)

Intermezzo for String Quintet in D minor

with James Boyd (violin)

String Quartet in C minor, WAB111

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet, together with violist James Boyd (of the London Haydn Quartet) presents a historically informed performance of Bruckner’s String Quintet and Quartet.

This is the first recording to use gut strings (a special set from Dan Larsen in Minnesota was obtained specially for this recording) and original instruments at the correct pitch for the time.

Having first tackled the Bruckner Quintet nearly forty years ago , the Fitzwilliam’s starting point was achieving the famous ‘Bruckner Sound’ as well as considering tempo, bow strokes, use of vibrato and portamento in the performance.

With many great moments (such as the Adagio) the Quintet is guaranteed an exalted place in the hierarchy of chamber masterworks.

Upon hearing the performance The Bruckner Journal wrote: ‘It was a revelation to hear Bruckner’s quintet played on instruments with this gut string set-up appropriate to the time of its composition, and to hear it performed with a flexible lyricism that has become a rare thing in Bruckner performance.’

This recording was part-funded by The Bruckner Society of America and The Bruckner Journal.

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet is among the longest established string quartets in the world.

Now well into its fifth decade, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet is equally at home on both modern and historical instruments.

Founding member Alan George was at the forefront of the period performance movement, playing in John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique for over a decade.

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet first became well known through its close personal association with Dmitri Shostakovich, who entrusted the quartet with the Western premieres of his last three quartets.

“the Fitzwilliam Quartet has been working on this music for a long time. The players have wrestled with its quirks and uncovered its marvels…tender warmth radiates from page after page, dialogue between the voices emerges with keen, intimate intensity…all round a fascinating, rewarding disc” BBC Music Magazine, February 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Chamber

BBC Music Magazine

Chamber Choice

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Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 13, 15 & Grosse Fuge

Beethoven: String Quartets Nos. 13, 15 & Grosse Fuge


String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op. 130

Grosse Fuge in B flat major, Op. 133

String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132

All that was issued of a projected Fitzwilliam Quartet cycle on Decca was two late quartets – Opp. 130 and 132 – as well as the Grosse Fuge. Issued over two full-price discs and unavailable for more than two decades, they are now coupled as a 2CD Eloquence reissue. Some of Beethoven’s most visionary achievements, the recordings were highly regarded upon their first (and only appearance) on CD. The Grosse Fuge is placed before the finale of the B flat major Quartet, ‘clearly intended to be a spectacular apotheosis’, as Alan George argues in his notes. Listeners can program the CD with either the Grosse Fuge as the finale or the sixth movement conventionally used as its finale.

The lengthy annotations include an introductory note by the Fitzwilliam Quartet’s viola player Alan George, reminiscing about the recordings. The original CD notes are updated and revised and an additional note on the Grosse Fuge is provided by the Quartet’s current leader, Lucy Russell. As well there is a biography of the Fitzwilliam Quartet and a note on their Decca recording team.

Collectors will be interested to learn that the Fitzwilliams’s recording of the Op. 130 and Grosse Fuge was the last recording ever to be made by Decca in one of its most prestigious recording venues, Kingsway Hall.

“I much like the ardour and intelligence that the Fitzwilliam bring to all they do. […] this ensemble can hold their own alongside most competition, for they are without question one of the finest ensembles this country has produced in recent years. Impressive too, is the Decca recording, which is as well balanced as any of the current rivals. I was struck right from the very opening by their unerringly right choice of tempos [in Op. 130]. […] This is indeed a thoughtful reading, obviously the product of much care and feeling. […]Their account of the Grosse Fuge, is powerful and muscular … There is a marvellously combative feeling here.” Gramophone Magazine (Op. 130, Grosse Fuge)

“This thoughtful performance has much to recommend it. In the dominating slow movement the players risk a slower tempo than any other ensemble known to me … and this is symptomatic of the committed intensity with which they play this extraordinary music.” Gramophone Magazine (Op. 132)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4805619

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Fitzwilliam String Quartet Play Schubert, Brahms & Wolf

Fitzwilliam String Quartet Play Schubert, Brahms & Wolf


Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115

Alan Hacker (clarinet)


String Quintet in C major, D956

Christopher van Kampen (cello)

Wolf, H:

Italian Serenade in G major

One of the most gorgeous recorded versions of Schubert’s String Quintet is now available once more, after its relatively short-lived release as a full-price CD. The cellist was Christopher van Kampen, with whom the Fitzwilliams performed often. Appearing on CD for the first time is the Quartet’s recording of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, with Alan Hacker (who sweeps away any of the work’s ‘autumnal’ associations, emphasizing, rather, its Zigeuner elements) – one of Britain’s finest performers described by Alan George in his introductory note as ‘totally inspirational and revelatory in everything he did and touched, based on an obsessively enquiring and probing mind, allied to a flair in performance which, at its best, could have listeners eating out of his hands’. Wolf’s little Italian Serenade too makes a first appearance on CD.

Alan George writes introductory notes and in addition to his note on the Schubert String Quintet and Wolf’s Italian Serenade, and Alan Hacker’s on the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, is a fascinating essay by Wilfrid Mellers entitled ‘Schubert’s Dream of Eden’. As well there is a biography of the Fitzwilliam Quartet and a note on their Decca recording team.

“This is a very sensitive performance of the Brahms in which just about everything seems to go well. The first movement has arguably exactly the right degree of forward pressure without losing any of its reflective beauty; the second catches exactly the right degree of Hungarian style for the passages based on that. In the third movement the wisps of sound are thrown off with exceptional skill. […] Overall, this performance is among the very best.” Gramophone Magazine (Brahms)

“This is a thoughtful performance … In the first movement the cellos play that marvellous second subject as Schubert wanted it, pianissimo, resisting the temptation to show off their tone mezzo-forte; and very lovely it sounds. The whole ensemble responds with unusual skill when Schubert asks for a diminuendo when the music is already pp, and that takes some doing. But there is plenty of vigour for contrast.” Gramophone Magazine (Schubert)

“a splendidly lively reading” Gramophone Magazine (Wolf)

“a sparkling account … well-defined recording” Penguin Guide *** (Wolf)

“a reading exceptionally faithful to Schubert’s markings, yet one which with freshness and seeming spontaneity conveys the work’s masterly power and impulse too […] The reading overall is deeply thoughtful, never exaggerated in expressiveness, but naturally compelling […] The recording is superbly full and atmospheric and has remarkable presence” Penguin Guide ***

“finely paced and beautifully integrated” Penguin Guide (Brahms)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4805622

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Composés par Mr. Hayden

Composés par Mr. Hayden


Cassation in C major, Hob.III:6

String Quartet, Op. 71 No. 2 in D major

String Quartet, Op. 77 No. 2 in F major

On March 2nd 1969 the Fitzwilliam String Quartet made its first ever public appearance – for Fitzwilliam College Music Society in Cambridge (hence its name). By a happy coincidence the forty-year milestone for the FSQ also coincided with the 200th anniversary of arguably the greatest of all composers for string quartet, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809). This man’s reputation has for too long suffered beyond the horizons he himself broadened; his achievements have too often been eclipsed by those of his successors. It was only natural that, as one of the great innovators, he should create not just a magnificent treasury of music himself but also limitless possibilities on which others might build. While he may never equal the popular appeal of his young friend Mozart, 2009 went some considerable way towards reminding us of his towering presence in our musical history and heritage. The music speaks for itself, but the mission of the performers must be the responsibility of presenting it in the best possible light.

The Fitzwilliam Quartet were heavily involved with Haydn during his anniversary year, but the present performances were recorded many years earlier, at a public concert on 1st February 2001 at Royal Holloway College. At that time the quartet’s personnel was in transition, but happily this recording captures Jonathan Cohen’s brief sojourn as cellist. Period instruments were used, and there were no retakes or edits at all. The selection of works literally spans the beginning and end of Haydn’s career as a quartet composer, from his earliest set of Divertimenti a quattro to what might be considered one of the greatest string quartets of all time, and framing one of the first quartets ever written specifically for public performance.

Founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the Fitzwilliam Quartet first became well known through its close personal association with Dmitri Shostakovich, who befriended them following a visit to York to hear them play. He entrusted them with the Western premières of his last three quartets, and before long they had become the first ever group to perform and record all fifteen. These recordings, which gained many international awards, secured for them a world wide concert schedule, and a long term contract with Decca/London which embraced some byways of late Romantic repertoire (including Franck, Delius, Borodin, and Sibelius) before they embarked on a Beethoven cycle. Indeed, the Shostakovich set was included in Gramophone magazine’s “Hundred Greatest-ever Recordings” in November 2005.

“An imaginative programme which places an early work alongside two mature masterpieces. The spontaneity of Haydn's musical invention is particularly well served by the energetic playing of the Fitzwilliam Quartet.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 ****

“What [Haydn] does, harmonically, with the little five-note tag in the development of Op 77’s first movement is miraculous, and I felt the Fitzwilliam might have taken it a fraction slower, to relish its riches. But the set as a whole is one to rejoice in.” Sunday Times, 12th December 2010 ****

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On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge


Elegiac Sonnet


Ludlow and Teme

Vaughan Williams:

On Wenlock Edge


The Curlew

James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano), Michael Cox (flute), Gareth Hulse (cor anglais)

Fitzwilliam String Quartet

“Gilchrist's bright, ringing tenor voice is compelling from the first note, but it's the range of expression and unaffected musicality that leave the lasting impression” BBC Music Magazine

“…a wonderfully imaginative account of On Wenlock Edge and The Curlew. The developing tale of Bredon Hill has never been more vividly told on records, and the desolation of Warlock's masterpiece becomes more poignant still because of the beauty evoked. ...Gurney's Housman cycle has also its finest performance on record. Strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2007

“...invigorating stuff from the off, and far from the pastoral legato of some other interpretations...Gilchrist’s no-nonsense vocal style meets the folk-based contours of the music with a convincing respect – his vowels more fluid and natural than some in the English tenor tradition, and his delivery all the more vivid for it.” Andrew Mellor,, 5th July 2007

GGramophone Awards 2008

Finalist - Solo Vocal

Super Audio CD


Hybrid Multi-channel

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Franck: String Quartet & Violin Sonata

Franck: String Quartet & Violin Sonata

Franck, C:

String Quartet in D major

Violin Sonata in A major

“Franck's Quartet is highly ambitious in its scale...this magnificent performance by the Fitzwilliam Quartet, superbly triumphing over the technical demands with totally dedicated, passionately convincing playing, completely silences any reservations.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

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Sibelius: String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56 'Voces Intimae', etc.


String Quartet (1916)

Cello Sonata


String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56 'Voces Intimae'

George Isaac (cello), Martin Jones (piano)

Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Hidden gems of the chamber music repertoire, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet's sublime recordings of the string quartets of Sibelius and Delius are released on CD for the first time, coupled with Delius's little cello masterpiece - his Sonata in one movement. Alan George of the Fitzwilliam Quartet provides the liner notes for the two pieces this ensemble has recorded and this reissue is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Rowland, first violinist, who recently passed away.

“Powerhouse performances of three little known works” MusicWeb International

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Liz Johnson: Intricate Web

Liz Johnson: Intricate Web

String Quartets, Songs And Chamber Works

Johnson, Liz:

String Quartet No. 3 'Intricate Web'

Cello Suite 'Reflections of an Eccentric English Artist'

Towards the Sea

Jo Shapcott Settings: Cabbage Dreams

String Quartet No. 1 'Images of Trees'

Sleep Close

Tide purl

Jo Shapcott Settings: Watching Medusa

Fantasia Forty-Something

Clarinet Quintet 'Sea-change'

String Quartet No. 2 'For Elliott'

Jo Shapcott Settings: Elephant Woman

Jo Shapcott Settings: Pig

String Quartet No. 4 'Sky Burial'

Liz Johnson is a British composer, definitely in the avant-garde mold yet not totally alien to ‘traditional-music’ lovers. The quartet is undoubtedly one of today’s most celebrated ensembles with a fine reputation in the world of new music. Over 157 minutes of music!

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Contemporary Music - up to 25% off

Metier - MSV77206

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Bach And The Stile Antico

Bach And The Stile Antico

Bach, J S:

Mass in B minor, BWV232 (excerpts)

Chorale Prelude BWV671 'Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist'

Credo in unum Deum, BWV1081


Magnificat in C major: Suscepit Israel


Missa sine nomine (for 6 voices): excerpts

St Salvator’s Chapel Choir, Ars Eloquentiae, Fitzwilliam String Quartet, Tom Wilkinson

The flagship choir of the University of St Andrews is joined by dynamic young period instrument group Ars Eloquentiae and the members of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in an exploration of J.S. Bach’s relationship with the compositional style associated with renaissance polyphony.

The disc also investigates the influences which Bach seems to have absorbed when planning and composing his great Mass in B minor. Two Credo pieces by Bassani (world premiere recording) and Caldara are included, each arranged in different ways by Bach, possibly in preparation for the opening movement of his own Credo. Palestrina’s ‘Missa Sine Nomine’ was likewise known to Bach who copied, and probably performed, it in the 1740s.

The CD culminates in the great ‘Symbolum Nicenum’ from the Mass in B minor, and also includes organ works by Bach in the stile antico, performed by Tom Wilkinson on the Ahrend organ at the University of Edinburgh.

“strings and continuo [are] played expertly by Ars Eloquentiae (string sections are led by the Fitzwilliam Quartet). The choir achieves a particularly refined balance…and the integration of these assorted stylistic influences s realised transparently in this unaffected ad lovely performance” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

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Brahms: Clarinet Quintet

Brahms: Clarinet Quintet


Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115


Oriental Reverie


Quintet Movement in F, K580b

Sweeney, W:

An Òg-Mhadainn (The Young Morning)

Lesley Schatzberger (clarinet)

Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Clarinettist Lesley Schatzberger and the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, both of whom have established well deserved reputations for thoughtfully delivered and historically considered performances, present works by Brahms, Mozart, Glazunov and Sweeney.

Originally released in 2007, Brahms: Clarinet Quintet has been re-issued as part of Linn’s ECHO series which offers a second chance to enjoy the best of the label’s award-winning catalogue.

At the centrepiece is the Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor, which in their hands carries particular historical significance.

Brahms was originally inspired to write the Quintet after hearing clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld perform.

Lesley Schatzberger performs on a specially-made copy made of Mühlfeld’s own clarinet and the performers adhere to certain aspects of performance practice which were in favour at that time, while embracing Brahms’s attitude to rhythm, tempo, and rubato creating a truly authentic feel.

The programme also includes a rare Mozart quintet movement in B flat major, completed by Duncan Druce, which is one of several unfinished Mozart works which are still being realised today, as well as Glazunov’s haunting Rêverie Orientale and An Òg-Mhadainn (The Young Morning) by Scottish contemporary composer William Sweeney.

Founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet first became well known through their close personal association with Dmitri Shostakovich, who entrusted them with the Western premières of his last three quartets.

Lesley Schatzberger has been at the forefront of historical instrument performance since her student days and has taken part in pioneering performances of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven on period instruments.

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