The Sunday Herald, September 2013
“Although they are four string players, they don’t play as four separate musicians but instead as one musical force to be reckoned with … The lyrical third movement was played so majestically that it moved this critic to tears, the human longing of Beethoven’s prayer being played with such sensitivity and vulnerability. It is hardly ever the case that gratitude is the lasting impression of a concert, but this is one of them.”
General Anzeiger Bonn, December 2013
“Das zwischen die beiden Pausen montierte und von dem Elias String Quartet aus London gespielte späte Streichquartett in a-Moll op. 132 war ohne Zweifel der musikalische Höhepunkt des Abends. Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant (Violinen), Martin Saving (Viola) und Marie Bitlloch (Violoncello), die sich derzeit intensiv mit den Streichquartettwerken Beethovens beschäftigen und im Herbst in den Archiven des Beethoven-Hauses recherchierten, gelang mit dem Molto adagio ein unglaublich intensiver, unter die Haut gehender Gesang (auf den viele im Publikum mit einem Zwischenapplaus reagierten). Die Balance der einzelnen Instrumente stimmte in jeder Sekunde, jede melodische Wendung, jeder Harmoniewechsel wurden hier zum Ereignis.”
Brighton Festival 2013
The Chichester Observer, 29 May 2013
By Andrew Warren
“…the second concert consisted of the Quartet in D major…Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant’s violins evoked the sweetness of the opening movement’s theme…the vibrant and playful Presto had all the pace and energy needed to do it justice.”
King’s Hall, Ilkley
The Ilkley Herald, 22 February 2013
By Graham Keene
“The young players of the Elias String Quartet are currently engaaged in playing a complete cycle of the string quartets…we were given a mighty sample…the playing that we experienced was exhilirating, sometimes moving and always hugely satisfying.”
Southampton, Turner Sims
Bachtrack, 29 November 2012
By Edward Whitney
“… having greatly enjoyed this marvellous concert, I’m just glad I’ll get to hear the Elias Quartet play Beethoven again and again.”
East Neuk Festival July 2011 (reviews)
The Times, 6 July 2011
By Sarah Urwin Jones
“…Halting, then robust in Beethoven’s Harp Quartet, it was the raw, half-crazed intensity with which they magnified Mendelssohn’s grief-stricken String Quartet in F minor that endured.”
The Scotsman, 6 July 2011
By Kenneth Walton
Kilrenny Church & St Monan’s Church, Fife ****
While it is unusual for an ensemble to feature at the East Neuk Festival in consecutive years, no-one was going to be disappointed that the exception would be a return visit by the young Elias Quartet. In any case, their focus this time was on Beethoven and Mendelssohn, a far cry from the Britten quartets they impressed with last year.
Over a series of two concerts at the weekend (with an extra one on Sunday morning to meet ticket demand), we heard inspired programmes that paired, respectively, Beethoven’s F minor Op95 and the Op74 “Harp” quartet with Mendelssohn’s teenage Op13 and his ultimate Op80.
The connections were palpable – the fizzy coda of the earlier Beethoven posing as a subliminal link into the earlier Mendelssohn, and in turn Mendelssohn’s retrospective allusions to Beethoven; and the similarly-minded agitations that set both the “Harp” and Mendelssohn’s swan-song quartet vividly alight.
All of that was spelt out in brief verbal introductions by lead violinist Sara Bitlloch, but the connections were sharply articulated in performances that abandoned safety and complete polish in favour of excitement and emotional theatre.
True, there were moments where the sound seemed forcibly exaggerated, but to have tamed the beast would have been to short-change us on music that wrestles with conflicting passions.
The opening of Beethoven’s Op95, for instance, was a glorious and succinct example of that; while at the other end of the spectrum, the agonising harmonic interruptions that punctuate the close of Mendelssohn’s Op80 – composed in the year of his death – brought the Elias’s residence to a dramatic close.
The ensemble has just begun a three-year project to explore all of Beethoven’s quartets – see www.thebeethovenproject.com
The Herald, 5 July 2011
by Kate Molleson
… The two Elias concerts came with breathless reports of their performances at last year’s festival, and justifiably so. This quartet clearly thinks hard about the music they play. They’ve a strong sense of architecture and pass melodies between them with earnest grace. … their sheer determination becomes an effective part of their performance, especially in repertoire like Mendelssohn’s tortured Quartet in F minor, Opus 80. Over the next few years they are working on a complete Beethoven cycle, and it seems the journey will be very much worth following.
The Guardian, 3 July 2011
The Elias played Beethoven and Mendelssohn with powerful grit and rough, human edges.
James Jolly, June 2011
“A wonderful and wonderfully ambitious project has just been launched by the young Elias Quartet, a truly in-depth approach to the complete Beethoven quartets…It’s a splendid venture, generously sponsored by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, a great supporter of classical music to whom we’re all indebted.”
East Neuk Festival
Note by Svend Brown at www.eastneukfestival.com, May 2011
“For any quartet it is the greatest – and one of the most demanding – of all musical journeys… But something special marks this one out. The Elias Quartet has had the good fortune to benefit from a Borletti Buitoni award. This trust supports outstanding young musicians in many ways, but most importantly by enabling them to realise personal, tailor-made projects which might well be impossible for them to fund otherwise. Every beneficiary uses their award money in a different way, and the quartet has chosen to spend it on finding ways to share its “journey” with the widest possible audience. The main way they are doing this is via a website:
www.thebeethovenproject.com. Even at this stage – and it is early days for the project – it is a rewarding site to visit…They [Elias Q] are about engagement, sharing the experience, encouraging the audience to feel as active and involved in the music as they themselves are. You do not need to attend a single concert to benefit from that. But if you do! How much deeper might your experience be? I cheer for it.”
Michael Tumelty, 18 April 2011
“It’s a very interesting package; not just a cheap marketing shot, but a real attempt to demystify the whole business of string quartets, the almost mythical status of Beethoven, and to draw listeners into the process of learning, collaboration and assembling this mighty series of non-stop masterpieces.”
Read the full article here
from Norman Lebrecht…
1st April 2011
The young and very gifted Elias String Quartet are getting ready for the big one – Beethoven, the complete string quartets. But how does a young group get the word out in a market that is half competitive, half indifferent and when so many other brands are far better known? Start with a website…get a few heavyweights to blog on it, kicking off with the Lindsay Quartet’s Peter Cropper Keep the thing refreshed with new features, Shoot a short film. Build an audience online. Look and learn. That’s how. I like these guys. They’re thinking creative.
BBT Press Release
30th March 2011
The Borletti-Buitoni Trust press release is available at