30 November 2023
The Sacconis have been together now for 21 years, making them one of the UK’s longest-running quartets. To celebrate the milestone they have finally allowed themselves to set down their long-developed performances of works that represent the summit of the artform: Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and Beethoven’s almost contemporaneous C minor Quartet, Op. 131.
The players have a notable consistency of tone, perhaps partly thanks to the fact that the three higher instruments are all by the influential 20th-century Italian luthier from which the quartet takes its name; in any case, it takes its lead from the sweetness of Ben Hancox’s first violin. The performances are closely recorded, making for a feeling of directness and intimacy rather than spaciousness, and a focus on nuanced choices of tone colour – such as the breath-like sound at the beginning of the Schubert’s slow movement, almost evoking an accordion. Elsewhere this work sounds tautly wound, the playing crisp and punchy, the inner rhythms measured and precise, each voice clear – it’s an interpretation of calculated drive rather than abandon.
The Beethoven initially unfolds with a sense of inevitability, and little ruffles the surface in the first movement, but in the Variations that all changes, and in the fifth of the seven movements the players make much of the exaggerated pizzicatos and the abrasive effects at the end. A dramatic finale wraps up another detailed – and ultimately very satisfying –performance.
ERICA JEAL, BBC Music Magazine, November 2023
15 November 2023
Here are the Sacconis in conversation about their life 21 years together:
31 July 2021
The Sacconis approach to Purcell – two Fantasias and the G Minor Chacony – was sober and probing: there was a sense that profound interpretative preparation and reflection had been undertaken, and that, with the heavy work despatched, the music could now be freed to speak with directness and potency.
And so on to Ravel… Hannah Dawson shaped the transition to the second subject exquisitely (and, if anything, her discerningly shaped repetitions, and gentle give and take, were even finer the second time round), and I loved Berridge’s pianissimo fifths which were like sighs of fulfilment between Hancox’s and Ashwell’s entrancing unison melody.
CLAIRE SEYMOUR, Seen and Heard International, July 2021
22 October 2018
The Sacconi String Quartet are clearly completely committed to Fitkin’s music, as made evident in their mesmerising performances of Recur and Servant, both pieces of startling energy and power, using minimalist techniques as a starting-point but achieving an entirely individual voice.
All this plus the Sacconi Quartet on brilliant, concentrated form in Philip Glass’s second String Quartet made for an unusually stimulating concert which the enthusiastic audience won’t forget in a hurry.
WILLIAM RUFF @ReviewsGate October 2018
11 December 2017
Of all the discs I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, the recent chamber/vocal disc of Dove’s music stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It is a recording that I frequently return to. Mark Padmore ‘owns' In Damscus; as no one else could, while Charles Owen and the Sacconi Quartet show Dove’s lighter touch in the effervescent Piano Quintet. A joyous release.
MALCOLM RILEY, Gramophone, Dec 2017
17 October 2017
Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of [In Damascus]…pianist Charles Owen joins the Sacconis for the Piano Quintet, his crisp, incisive playing making a particular impression in the rhythmically buoyant outer movements
BBC Music Magazine, October 2017
1 August 2017
Seldom does a mixed vocal and chamber programme such as this hang together so perfectly...[In Damascus] was tailor-made for Mark Padmore, who summons up every iota of his immense interpretative powers to steer us through this reflective testament. This important release cannot be recommended too highly.
MALCOLM RILEY, Gramophone Recording of the Month, August 2017
… soulful richness and absolute commitment from the Sacconi. The gradual infusion of dynamism and spirit, and gritty dissonance, as the bear awakens, is joyful. Heartfelt indeed.Claire Seymour, Opera Today
Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of 'In Damascus'Presto Recordings of the Year: Finalist 2017
The festival sensation, the young Sacconi Quartet completely bowled over a packed audience. The chemistry between these four young players is tangible and magical.The Scotsman
A beautiful blend of sound ... highly engaging.The Times
An exceptional ensemble ... a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detail.Musical Opinion
A quartet of genuine substance.The Daily Telegraph
Great power and sweetness ... intimate closeness.The Spectator
Enviable technical prowess.The Strad
The finest I have ever heardEdward Clark, British Sibelius Society
A triumphant performanceThe Observer