What the Belcea Quartet writes in the preface to its recording of the complete Beethoven String Quartets could also be described as their artistic creed.These musicians are not confined by traditional boundaries. It is perhaps the very fact of their diverse cultural backgrounds that is behind their dynamic and free interpretative style. Founded at the Royal College of Music in London in 1994, the quartet is based in Great Britain. However, the Romanian violinist Corina Belcea and the Polish violist Krzysztof Chorzelski, the two founder members, bring a very different artistic provenance to the ensemble while drawing from the best traditions of string quartet playing received from the quartet's mentors: the members of the Alban Berg and Amadeus Quartets. This spectrum is extended by the French musicians Axel Schacher (violin) and Antoine Lederlin (violoncello). The Belcea Quartet blends its diverse influences into a common musical language.
This diversity is reflected in the Belcea Quartet's repertoire. Regular world premières - among them Mark-Anthony Turnage's string quartet „Twisted Blues with Twisted Ballad“ in 2010 and „Contusion“ in 2014 - go hand-in-hand with its profound connection with the great works of the Classical and Romantic periods.
The quartet's open-minded approach to music invariably enables it to find its own unique, elegant and refined interpretations of the main string quartet repertoire. The quartet performs regularly to great acclaim in concert halls across the world: among them the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Wigmore Hall in London, and Carnegie Hall in New York. The Quartet also appears regularly at the Salzburg, Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals as well as the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg. The quartet’s regular partners include Piotr Anderszewski, Till Fellner, Martin Fröst, Valentin Erben, Ian Bostridge and Matthias Goerne.
The Belcea Quartet has shared a residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus with the Artemis Quartet since 2010. It is also Quartet in Residence at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The musicians recently created their very own Belcea Quartet Trust, whose main aims are to support and inspire young string quartets through series of intensive coaching sessions organised according to the needs of each selected ensemble, as well as to support commissioning of new works from today's leading composers to be premiered by the quartet in the future.
The Belcea Quartet has an impressive discography. During its long-term association with EMI Classics, the quartet recorded the complete Britten and Bartók quartets as well as works by Schubert, Brahms, Mozart, Debussy, Ravel and Dutilleux, amongst others. In 2012 and 2013, the quartet recorded the complete Beethoven quartets live in the Benjamin Britten Studio in Snape, England. This recording was released under ZigZag Territoires, the quartet’s new label. As with its predecessors, this CD has been met with critical acclaim: it has been recognized with such prizes as the ECHO Klassik Award.
The Belcea Quartet's performances of the complete Beethoven string quartets at Vienna's Konzerthaus in 2012 were broadcast by Mezzo TV and were released - on DVD and Blue Ray disk - by the label Euroarts in fall 2014. The release was accompanied by Jean-Claude Mocik's documentary of the entire project, "On the Trail of Beethoven's String Quartets".
In the 2015/2016 season, the Belcea Quartet will celebrate 20 years together with concerts in London’s Wigmore Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus, at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Philharmonie de Luxembourg. The Quartet will continue to focus on comprehensive recordings, a key feature of their artistic output, with an upcoming recording of the complete Brahms string quartets. The music of the 21st century will also feature prominently in their 20th anniversary celebrations: the centerpiece will be the world premiere of a new string quartet by Thomas Larcher.