Cuarteto Quiroga
Official Site
Cuarteto Quiroga
Other Official Sites
Cuarteto Quiroga (Facebook)
Cuarteto Quiroga (Twitter)
Cuarteto Quiroga (YouTube)
Cobra Records (Cuarteto Quiroga)
Copyright © 2022 MozartCircle.
All rights reserved.
Iconography is in public
domain or in fair use.
Cuarteto Quiroga & The Official Site
Official Page CD 1 & CD 2
Cuarteto Quiroga Recordings
Official Page CD 3
Cuarteto Quiroga Recordings
You have recently released a marvellous couple of CDs Und es ward Licht!, entirely dedicated to Haydn and Mozart, with the intent also on exploring the world of symbolism in music! Can you tell us about the origin of this project? Can you present, to our readers, the single pieces selected for your Album and the reason of your choice? What's your relationship with Haydn and Mozart and their music? 
Every CD is, for us, much more than just a recording!...

... It is a way to actually depict our understanding of the string quartet repertoire, a real milestone in our development as ensemble, and also part of a larger project, which is to be shared with our audiences, through all our years of work, the great cultural legacy of this craft and this fascinating musical genre, flagship of our European identity...

... So all our CDs tell a story, raise certain aesthetic questions and propose a way of combining repertoires, which want to invite you to approach the listening in a different, original and hopefully unique way. We are strongly convinced that nowadays a CD cannot be only a nice audio material: it must be food for thought! 

After the success of our previous recordings (dedicated to a Statement of Principles as a quartet, to the (R)evolution of the Second Viennese School, to the Turning Point, that the Brahms quartets imply in string quartet history, to the Folk-Based Roots of every music, to Spanish rarities for piano & quartet and to Our Music of Madrid in the time of Goya) in this double CD album we decided to join forces with the world renowned violist Veronika Hagen (founder of the celebrated Hagen Quartett, from Salzburg) to musically depict one of the most fascinating periods in music history: the birth and triumph of string quartet as genre and, with it, the advent of a new era, in which a new generation of Europeans saw in this pure, instrumental music an art, that emanated from reason and thought, but spoke directly to their heart and feelings, and so had the power to persuade and convince, perfectly combining the syntactic and structural force of language with the free semantic poetics of the imagination!...

... that's to say:
Music to illuminate a new world, music to instruct and seduce!... A universal, democratizing music, wholly modern and enlightened!
To illustrate this journey across the musical Aufklärung, we carefully selected a repertoire, that focuses on four masterpieces by Haydn and Mozart written all in C-major, the symbolic key of Light, the key chosen as well by Haydn himself to depict the moment of The Creation in his most famous oratorio, with the luminous cry of Und Es Ward Licht!

From our point of view, few works define this period, as Haydn's six Op. 33 quartets of 1781 do, quartets which practically musically operate in an almost foundational manner!...

... For this reason, one of the most emblematic quartets of the set is the No. 3 and is, at the same time, the first work on this recording, acting as a real gateway into that new world of string quartet... There is something of the dawn, an explosion of radiance about its opening, as if it were distilling, into a few bars, the whole journey into light and a longing for a universal language represented by the birth of the string quartet!

It is a fact, that the impact of the Op. 33 set was enormous! Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the greatest talent of his days – perhaps of all time – studied these pieces, led by fascination, and was soon inspired to publish six quartets of his own, dedicated to the man he regarded as his teacher, friend and (second) father figure, and for whom he had the greatest admiration, especially as a composer of string quartets...

... Mozart called these works the «fruit of a long and laborious endeavor» and poured the best of his expertise and spirit into them, creating some of the most complex, elaborate and intriguing works in his entire catalogue!

In the introduction of the last of the set, K.465, he seems to anticipate that journey from chaos to light. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most audacious openings in all 18th-century music and one of the most iconic in the string quartet literature as a whole... Conflict and resolution, chaos and order, darkness and light, Eros and Thanatos, ambivalences, that in Haydn and Mozart's skilled and visionary hands acquire a profoundity and sincerity still moving beyond compare!

As a musical account of the advent of a new era, this album would be incomplete, if it failed to illustrate the other great revolution of the age: the birth of the public concert and the explosion of the editorial business. For it was during the Enlightenment, that instrumental music underwent a Copernican turn by moving from the private space (and not just private, but exclusive, in the case of the aristocracy and high clergy) to the public sphere. Transformed into an animated, non-verbal ideological debate, a wordless conversation, that went beyond the discourse of the passions and communicated logic and ideas, as suggested by Wittgenstein, it became the centerpiece of social soirées and, in the final decades of the 18th-century, made that gigantic leap from bourgeois and aristocratic salons to public arenas! Haydn's public, virtuosic music gestures of Op.74 n.1, and Mozart's glorious Quintet K.515 represent perfectly this kind of approach to composition, in which chamber music becomes the favorite tool to democratize music knowledge and bring it to the agora publica

Und Es Ward Licht: Official Trailer (Cuarteto Quiroga) 

This recording explains and celebrates a musical process, which, child of its time, ended up shaping a way of writing and making music, that would guide generations of composers, performers and music lovers, and whose ethical and aesthetic reflections still gleam brightly today...

That is why the four works of this double CD are beacons of light that relate to and intersect with one another... listening to them leads you across a great world of the highest level of eloquence... their beams of light triangulates and depicts, in the sonic atmosphere, a musical map, that defines the new era of modernity... 

It is thus a journey from darkness to light, from ingenuity to genius, from the human to the sublime... a journey to the very roots of Europe's musical and cultural identity!

                                        CUARTETO QUIROGA

                  CUARTETO QUIROGA

AITOR HEVIA (violin)
HELENA POGGIO    (cello)

In your repertoire you have developed an important section of lesser known Spanish composers of the 18th-century and demonstrated that their music writing was, in reality, on high levels: hidden gems, so to say! When has your love for this 18th-century Spanish repertoire begun? When and what have you discovered? Your 2019 CD Album Heritage was critically acclaimed and selected for ICM Awards: can you present, to our readers, the composers chosen for your Album and their music? To what extent do you think Haydn model attracted those composers?
We were always somehow aware of the fact, that there was an amazing cultural heritage, in the field of string quartet, that was linked to our country, and that it was actually neglected in many ways, remaining unknown to the most of the music lovers and even quartet players, not only in our country, but also internationally.

We have explained this fact very often: most people around the world, and in Spain too, identify the birth of string quartet with the name of the great Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, so called by musical tradition the father of the string quartet...

Cuarteto Quiroga: Heritage Album - Teaser (Brunetti String Quartet L.185) 

... As a consequence, the collective cultural imaginary identifies the string quartet, thus, as a central European phenomenon, mainly linked to Vienna, Mannheim, and maybe northern Italy and the Bohemian lands, as epicentres of a musical earthquake, which would shake the European music scene forever. Furthermore, when the expansion of quartet as totemic genre is studied, the names of London, Paris, Amsterdam, the court of Prussia and even the nordic Stockholm appear in the picture consistently, while one European capital is usually left behind, as culturally peripheral: Madrid. 

Through our contact with the work of extraordinary musicologists, like Prof. Miguel Ángel Marín (MozartCircle Interview: January 2022), we became more and more acquainted with the immensity of the legacy, that still remains silent in the libraries and the archives and never reaches the concert halls. We started reading intensively loads of string quartets, discovering with amazement and joy the extraordinary music of several composers, that worked in Spain in the late 18th-century...

... We were absolutely fascinated: those were really, as you say, hidden gems!

As a quartet that lives and works in Madrid, we felt then that it was our duty to contribute a little bit to illustrate musically, how the town, we live in daily, during the Enlightenment, became one of the most active capitals of the European string quartet scene. In fact, around the Royal Court, the arts flourished, and while the now world renowned Francisco de Goya was chamber painter for the Royal Household – producing masterworks that have attained all the historic attention they deserve – a bunch of extremely talented, skillful and brilliant composers, such as Boccherini, Brunetti, Canales, Almeida and many others, actively and extensively composed a large catalogue of chamber music – especially string quartets – that unfortunately today (and with no musical justification!) has remained in oblivion or has been regarded with disdain...

Cuarteto Quiroga plays Brunetti String Quartet L.185 

... Indeed, as you suggest in your question, the monumental figure of Joseph Haydn acquired a stature and a level of influence in many composers, already during his lifetime, that has overshadowed many other excellent composers, but, if we want to understand well, what a great international phenomenon string quartet was in the late 18th-century, we need to open the scope of our view a bit more and widen the frame of the historical and musical picture...

... In fact, many composers followed Haydn's model of string quartet, brought to perfection in his Op.20 and sealed with his Op.33, but many others, like Boccherini, approached string quartet in such a personal, individual way, that we could say nowadays, that there was also a Boccherini paradigm, already well-respected during his lifetime, besides and beyond Haydn himself!...

... In Madrid the two models (Haydn & Boccherini) co-exist in the music of the composers of the time (Brunetti, Canales, Almeida, and many others), but each of them brought their own personality to their string quartet works, and that is, why we selected this anthology, as a way to showcase the diversity of the Madrid string quartet scene...

... We also performed their music, by using the gut strings, with bows in process of transition and, as we always do, following historically informed performance practice criteria.

We can really assert, without doubt, that this Heritage is of the great musical value, and, that it is of capital importance to fully comprehend the birth and expansion of one of the most important genres of European music: the String Quartet!
Cuarteto Quiroga plays Joao Pedro de Almeida Mota: String Quartet Op. 6, nº 2, in D Minor. Finale 

(a) Your quartet received its name after the great Spanish violinist Manuel Quiroga (1892-1961). Can you tell us about him? Why have you decided to dedicate your quartet to such a great violinist?

(b) What is the origin of your quartet?

(c) Of your many acclaimed tours across the world do you remember one or a couple of them, that has left a great enduring impression on you?
Well, Galician violinist Manuel Quiroga Losada, is undoubtedly, together with Pablo de Sarasate and Pau Casals, one of the most outstanding string players of Spanish music history and one of the greatest violin players of the first half of the 20th-century.

Unfortunately, although during the great moments of his short career, his fame would be internationally acclaimed, his memory has almost vanished in present times. He suffered a terrible accident in New York in the late 30s, and could never play again.

The explosion of recorded music came right after his musical death, and therefore many have forgotten his incredible stature. We felt it was a must to pay tribute to his incredible figure by naming our quartet after him, helping to bring back his memory to all those incredible halls, where he once performed and where he has been sadly forgotten by many...

... We are all the result of a certain legacy, a certain heritage, and it is an act of justice to pay tribute to our ancestors and to those who, in the past, paved the way for us. 

But please let us tell you a little bit about him, because his life was fascinating and it is really our duty to take every chance we get to share his story...

... born in the Galician town of Pontevedra on April 15th, 1892 he moved first to Madrid to study violin with Professor José del Hierro and in 1909 to Paris where he attended lessons with Edouard Nadaud and also Jaques Thibaud. At the Paris Consevatoire (the main musical academic institution of the time) he meets Georges Enesco, Eugène Ysaÿe and discovers his admiration for Fritz Kreisler. Two years later Kreisler himself would be —alongside with Lucien Capet, Martin Marsick, Jules Boucherit and Jaques Thibaud, among others— one of the members of the jury which, under the chairmanship of Gabriel Fauré, would award a 19-year-old Quiroga with the 1st prize of the Paris Conservatoire, following the unwalked path of Pablo de Sarasate...

... Le Monde Musical stated then: «Sarasate is not dead, Quiroga is his heir». Other important newspapers and magazines of the time would also echo the great achievement of the young galician violinist: Le Matin, Le Figaro, Le Journal… Other prizes and awards followed, such as the Sarasate Prize, the Jules Garcin or the Monnot.

During those Paris years Quiroga meets his partner and pianist, Marta Leman (1st prize in Piano the same year as Quiroga) as well as many artists and key figures of the musical world of the time: Falla, Turina, Casals, Nin, Ruiz Casaux, Cortot, Paul Paray or Darius Milhaud (who would obtain the accésit at the same concours won by Quiroga). The applause becomes international, and concerts and tours consolidate his fame as violinist virtuoso until the beginning of the 1st World War. In his hometown of Pontevedra he is received as a local hero and performs with Granados at the Piano. He tours all over Spain and France programming not only the classical repertoire but also Sarasate's and Kreisler's compositions and transcriptions...

Manuel Quiroga plays Spanish Dances for violin and piano (Op. 23 nº2) from Pablo Sarasate 

... By the end of 1913 he signs his first contract with the international manager J. J. Schürmann, who represented also leading musicians worlwide such as Kubelik, Paderewski, Isadora Duncan, etc. After a big and succesful Europe Tour together with José Iturbi (in Austria he was released, helped by Spain's King Alfonso XIII, after a short detention, under the accusation of espionage), he returns to France and does his first American Tour, starting in New York City.

Installed in Paris since 1917 with his couple Marta Leman, when the end of the Great War allows concert seasons to function normally again, Quiroga visits Portugal, his natal Galicia, and all the main Spanish Cities, with a great triumph at Barcelona's Palau de la Música Catalana.

1919 and 1920 will be the years of his british debut, with recitals, among other great halls, at the prestigious Wigmore Hall of London. Critics and colleagues, such as violinist Mischa Elman (who wrote he would never dare to play again a single note, after listening to Quiroga's virtuosity) and cellist Guilhermina Suggia wrote about him with awe. Suggia, for example would describe, with amazement, his «marvellous and flawless» interpretation of Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata.

Manuel Quiroga plays Cadenza for Sonata in G minor The Devil's Trill (Tartini - F. Kreisler) 

England, Scotland, France, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium (where he would perform together with Ysaÿe) and Spain stage the success of Quiroga, always accompanied by great pianists such as Paul Paray, J. José Castro or Marta Leman herself.

Igor Stravisnky listens to him and confesses publicly his admiration for Quiroga. Composers such as E. Naudet, R. Penau, J. Arnay and S. Rousseau write music for him. Ysaÿe himself would dedicate his Six Violin Solo Sonatas to the six greatest living violinists of his time. Quiroga was one of them.

In 1924 he returns to the USA, with a debut at New York's Carnegie Hall which would put the great Mischa Elman in a state of shock, as he would declare publicly himself. He returns to Britain and plays with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham, touring as well Belgium and Spain.

In 1926 he makes his first South American tour (Argentina, Uruguay) playing with a Stradivarius lent to him by J. J. Wallen. His return to New York in 1928 would bring him the chance to play on a Guarneri del Gesù, courtesy of the rich benefactor J. Wanamaker. Concerts all over America, includig Cuba and Mexico would follow. Still settled in Paris, he starts his phonographic activity, recording with labels RCA Victor and Pathé. In 1931, he is awarded with the highest distinction granted by the French Government: La Légion D'Honneur. The Spanish equivalent would be only granted to him years later: La Encomienda de Alfonso X El Sabio.

1933 and 1937 see his last tours to America, with concerts with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of the great Georges Enesco, or recitals with Mischa Levitzki and José Iturbi. It was precisely after greeting farewell to his dear Iturbi, in New York, where they had performed together, when he was fatally run down by a lorry. As a tragic result, he lost mobility in his arm and soon developed a paralysis.

When 45 years old, he tries without success to keep on playing for a short while after the accident, but ignored after the tragic Civil War in Spain, he will only continue with his musical work as a composer, being forced to leave the violin behind.

His talent as painter will be his only artistic shelter with time as well as the brilliant caricatures that ornamented his letters. With big suffering, also due to Parkinson's disease, and the economical problems due to the complicated treatment of his delicate health, Manuel Quiroga Losada died on April 19th, 1961, close to his new partner Maria Galvani.

His artistic legacy (paintings, drawings, original scores, and his two violins, an Amati and a Lambert) is today custody of the Museum of Pontevedra, and we indeed encourage everyone to visit this institution and find out about his incredible legacy, as painter, as composer and pubic figure. You can also find online several recordings of the 20s and 30s that show his incredible virtuosity, dazzling musicianship and sincere interpretative poetry.


(b) What is the origin of your quartet?

Well, our first rehearsals and concerts were held actually in Galicia, the land of Manuel Quiroga himself. We are soon going to celebrate the 20 years Anniversary of our Quartet in July 2023-2003.

We started, firstly, only for the pure enjoyment of playing together, as Aitor and Cibrán, the founding members of the quartet, shared a common dream of having a serious, professional string quartet. Then, after the first attempts, we realized we were sharing something very meaningful and powerful, and we decided to take it as seriously as possible...

... We left all our professional commitments and went to study the discipline and craft of string quartet playing with Prof. Rainer Schmidt (Hagen Quartett), sort of our musical father, at the Reina Sofia School of Music, in Madrid. There we met also one of our main pedagogical references, our dear teacher Walter Levin (LaSalle Quartet) and from then we went on studying with the great Hatto Beyerle (Alban Berg Quartett)...

... These three giants of the Art of the String Quartet have shaped our personality tremendously and we can understand, who we really are, only thanks to all we have learnt from them!

We were then lucky enough to be awarded in several competitions for string quartet of international relevance, and that helped to build an international career that has led us, slowly and with much work, discipline, dedication and respect for the music, to where we are now. We can only feel blessed and thankful for making our profession, out of our passion, and we can only wish we can continue doing it for many years from now...

... to share the incredible beauty of this genre, our genuine love for this craft, its enlightened message and its important civic and ethical values.

Festival Monteleón: an Interview with Cuarteto Quiroga 


(c) Of your many acclaimed tours across the world do you remember one or a couple of them, that has left a great enduring impression on you?

We have been asked this question several times, and it is truly impossible to respond faithfully and truthfully, as, after almost two decades of activity, the amount of concerts is quite big and the memories pile up, filled with incredible experiences, legendary halls, inspiring chamber music partners, amazing works of music, old and new…

... It would be probably unfair to select experiences, but we remember dearly all those places where music was not there before, and all of our outreach activities: performing in a prison, for all inmates; performing in hospital, for chemotherapy and dialysis patients; in a children's clinic, in neighborhoods, where institutions have forgotten, that culture and beauty are also a human right, because they feed our soul, our spirit, our imagination, our dreams, small villages, where string quartet music had never been heard before…

... String Quartet was devised to bring music out of the privileged spheres, and we take this part of our task very seriously...

... Music exists not only for those who love it already, but, principally and especially, exactly for those who, in reality, need it the most!
(a) Manuel Quiroga played on his special violins and you yourself in 2012 played on four decorated Stradivarius of the Royal Collection of the Palace of Madrid, performing music by Haydn, Arriaga, and Beethoven! Can you tell us the story of the instruments you have played and you are playing across your career and tours and their peculiarities?

(b) What your first tip or advice to a group of young musicians who want to start a new activity as a quartet?

(c) You have worked also on modern and contemporary music: what path are you following in this?

(d) What your projects for the future?
           Cuarteto Quiroga has its official residence throughout the year
                            at Madrid’s Cerralbo Museum:
                    Cerralbo Museum: Cuarteto en Residencia

Indeed, Manuel Quiroga had the chance to play on several instruments of the most famous makers. During different periods of his life he played on violins by Amati, Stradivari, Guadagnini and Guarneri del Gesù, some of them owned by him himself, some of them on loan from different benefactors and sponsors.

The so-called Royal Stradivarius collection of instruments (or Palatine Stradivarius) which we had the fortune to play belongs to Patrimonio Nacional (National Heritage of Spain), a public institution of the Spanish state that takes care of many collections that once where property of the Crown and now are state owned and managed...

      -> The Strad presents the Decorated Stradivaris of Madrid Royal Palace

... These are a unique set of instruments, not only for being four of the only eleven decorated pieces in the world built by Antonio Stradivari, but particularly since they are the only group of instruments conceived by the famous maker as a set. Originally they would have been at least five: two violins, two violas and one cello, but one of the violas (this is a long story that deserves a book by itself!) was lost and what we have left is a pure string quartet of decorated instruments.

They are strictly kept at the Royal Palace of Madrid, under extreme measures of security and protection, and exhibited at the Royal collections to be seen and, sometimes, to be also heard, when played in concerts.

Interview Cuarteto Quiroga (Spanish+English Subtitles):
at 2 min 27 sec you can see Cuarteto Quiroga playing the Royal Stradivarius instruments and listen to their performance of Mozart Quartet K465.

We had the honour and privilege to be the first quartet-in-residence who performed on these instruments on a regular basis during almost four straight years, playing string quartet music by Boccherini, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Arriaga, Schubert, Brahms, Webern, Schönberg, Kurtág, and even premiering new music, like Cristóbal Halffter's 10th String Quartet, dedicated in memoriam to Miguel de Cervantes and written for us, under a commission of Patrimonio Nacional.

In that period of time, through all these broad repertoire, we were not only fascinated by their wonderful sound quality, but also by how naturally the four instruments blended with one another, so that producing an homogeneous quartet sound, when needed, was effortless and a real joy for us. You could really feel that Stradivari had really conceived them to be played together!

As this Palatine Collection of decorated Stradivari is probably the most extraordinary set of instruments in the whole world, we would wish that they would be performed more often — of course, under the necessary caution of professional surveillance by expert violin makers — and enjoyed by the audiences of the world that have the chance to visit Madrid's magnificent Royal Palace...

... Unfortunately the policies are over-restrictive and those instruments are treated more as objects for visual admiration than as tools to produce the most sublime sounds a string quartet can obtain. So we would wish for them to be more widely presented to the general public through recordings, videos and other audiovisual formats, since the heritage of this collection should be, fundamentally, a sonic one, not only a silent dream inside a glass case for visual display.

Our current instruments in the quartet are a mix of old a new makers. We can all tell you individually about them:

A. Hevia (violin): I have played many violins since I started playing as a young boy. Sometimes it is sad to say goodbye to an instrument that has been a crucial part of your life, a faithful companion for many years. The violin that has accompanied most of my life, since we started our Cuarteto Quiroga, is an extraordinary composite violin made in Milano in the 18th-century by two of the greatest Italian luthiers of that time: G. Grancino and C. F. Landolfi. I still love this violin, which I own, but, starting last year 2021, I have been playing on a modern instrument made in Vienna, by Julia Maria Pasch in 2021, and I am extremely happy with its sound and what it brings to our quartet.

C. Sierra (violin): I personally have the incredible chance to play, thanks to the incredible generosity of the heirs of Paola Modiano, on a very old instrument, made in 1682 by one of the greatest makers in history: Nicola Amati. It was owned, back in those days, by a legendary violinist and quartet player, Arnold Rosé. It is beautiful to think, where (as it happens mostly with many works we play now!) it was played before by Rosé, I mean this very instrument!,...

... in his string quartet, the Rosé Quartett of Vienna, responsible for giving life to music, which is very dear to us, and which we defend and program a lot: that of the composers of the so called Second Viennese School, Schönberg, Berg & Webern...

... It is a fantastic violin, a work of art, so extremely well crafted that, from a constructive point of view, it reaches utmost perfection. It has also a fantastic sound that has been developing extraordinarily through the years, opening more and more and becoming more alive day by day. That is, why we defend those instruments and we think that, like the Royal Stradivari of Madrid, such instruments should be played regularly: they are living creatures and leaving them in silence only damps their beauty and perverts the reason why they were built on the very first place.

J. Puchades (viola):
I am very lucky to own two violas, made in 2006 and 2013 by the great living maker Stephan von Baehr, based in Paris. The 2006 one has an incredible projection, but the 2013 one is a bit warmer and more suitable for chamber music, which is why it is the one I currently play on, because it really fits well in the string quartet and has also a distinctive timbre, that favors the possibility of coming through the sound of my colleagues, when it is so needed.

H. Poggio (cello): My cello has been my instrument since I was 15 years old. It is a French one made in the atelier of Leon Bernardel in Paris, at the beginning of the 20th-century. It has a rich, rounded and clear sound with a particularly powerful projection in the lower strings, which makes it a wonderful instrument for a string quartet bass.


(b) What your first tip or advice to a group of young musicians who want to start a new activity as a quartet?

Starting a string quartet it is not so complicated. But what is really difficult is to keep it up in the long term, as there are many challenges during the journey.

To become a professional ensemble we would advice the young players to make sure that the four members of the group understand and share the same level of commitment that requires embarking themselves in such a magnificent adventure. Finding the right partners, is always tricky, as they must be not only the ones whose playing you respect or even admire, but the people that can create a healthy working environment, being able to give and take criticism always in a generous way, with courtesy and a constantly constructive perspective...

... They must be willing to invest a lot of time, hard work, energy and probably money, a well as making decisions that will interfere with their personal life's ones and plans; all of this without having, most likely the logistic nor economic support of institutions...

... This implies having an enormous respect for your colleagues' needs. We always say that the happiness of each individual member is the happiness of the quartet. This is like a foundational law for our group. The young string quartet has to be ready to travel a lot and to spend many hours in learning, researching repertoires, rehearsing, practicing individually and studying as a group, as well as understanding their adventure also as an entrepreneurial endeavor...

... Another essential advice, during the first years of the group, is to seek the advice and guidance of one (or various) good teachers, experienced quartet players, that can guide them through the probably turbulent path of their beginnings, where so many questions arise and a huge amount of answers are possible and sometimes misleading...

... A true Maestro, a generous and socratic pedagogue, will help, through questions, to find the artistic personality of the new collective, which, in the case of a string quartet, must happen necessarily through the process of learning how to successfully communicate a musical speech that has been elaborated by four musicians with different personalities and backgrounds...

... An important thing to keep in mind is to not neglect the individual studies of their own instruments, so that each member can contribute, with their best technical preparation, to the group, being up to the technical challenges of the music and providing colleagues with support and response. String quartet is both a marvelous and a difficult world, so once an ensemble commits to it, technical issues of their own instruments should not get on the way. For all the above mentioned reasons, the fascinating adventure of string quartet can only be dealt with properly, when passion and love fuel the energy of the group: passion for the craft of conversational music and sincere, immense love for the vast, complex, wondrous repertoire that we quartet players have ahead of us.


(c) You have worked also on modern and contemporary music: what path are you following in this?

String Quartets have always been champion defenders and supporters of contemporary music in all the moments of history, since this form of music making exists, stimulating thus composers to create new works and putting all their craft into action to broaden the repertoire.

Cuarteto Quiroga: Anton Webern, Rondo für Streichquartett 

Therefore, we as well, as quartet, are committed to perform music written by living composers, because we understand it as a beautiful and natural duty, an instinctive must, and because we feel both performers and composers nourish each other with this mutual collaboration in ways that go way beyond describable.

We can say that we are always excited to premiere a new piece as well as to perform any contemporary piece (a piece from our era, from our time) for string quartet, out of the wonderful and enormous repertoire that already exists. 

World Premiere of JOYCE, by Peter Eötvös, performed by Cuarteto Quiroga & Jörg Widmann, Live in HD 

Besides, for us, living directly the process of creating a new piece, feeling and debating with the composer the challenges of notation, the complex relation between imagination and sonic realization, the space that exists between the moment a piece is conceived and how it can be delivered to an audience, helps us to approach the music of the old masters in a richer way, as we can perfectly well see in their music all the complex dialectics that exist in contemporary creation, and the enormous space between literalness and faithfulness, in which the fruitful seed of interpretation can germinate!


(d) What your projects for the future?

Our most immediate engagements include:

1. performances of Absolute Jest by John Adams for string quartet and orchestra with the Symphony Orchestras of Asturias and Tenerife,

John Adams on Absolute Jest inspired by Beethoven's last works

2. some concerts where we put in relation the complete Brahms's string quartets (now that we celebrate the 125th anniversary of his death) with the three last ones of Beethoven (a project which finds its basis in our current residency at Madrid's Círculo de Cámara),

3. a project for Beethovenhaus Bonn, where we put in context the choral influence in string quartet writing, through the works of Cristóbal de Morales, György Kurtág, Jörg Widmann and Ludwig van Beethoven,

4. the participation in the Barcelona String Quartet Biennial with our dear  Veronika Hagen,

5. concerts in festivals of Germany, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway,...

6. ... and also our coming recording, which will reflect upon the most extreme experiments of compression with the form of string quartet (bringing it almost to an atomic unity), through works by Haydn, Beethoven and Bartók...

... For the next seasons we are also preparing to celebrate more than two decades of existence as a string quartet, and for that a very special cycle of concerts will be then prepared… Stay tuned!

Cuarteto Quiroga performs L. van Beethoven: String Quartet n.16 Op.135 in F (Vivace) 

Cuarteto Quiroga performs A. Schönberg, Streichquartett D Dur, Andantino grazioso 

Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
C. Sierra (violin): All their string quartets!... I just could never pick a single one!

H. Poggio (cello): Yes, so true! It is actually way too hard and almost unfair to choose just one piece from the spectacular and vast body of works both by Mozart and Haydn, they actually wrote for so many different genres! To mention just a few of them, I would pick, from Mozart, the Requiem K.626, Don Giovanni K.527, Piano concerto n.20 K.466 and, of course the string quartets he dedicated to Haydn.

From Haydn, some of my favorite works include The Creation, the London Symphonies, his first Cello Concerto, the Seven Last Words of Christ and the magnificent string quartets Op.76.

A. Hevia (violin): I totally agree, it is difficult or impossible to choose just one piece among the incredible catalogue of works. But if I have to choose (and leaving aside the quartets) I could agree with Helena on Mozart's Requiem and Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ, in its string quartet version, of course!

J. Puchades (viola): As I agree on this impossible and unfair exercise, let me make choice based solely on my own biography: as a teenager I heard a zillion times Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and I still love every beat of it… For Haydn, again leaving aside the quartets, I would also go for Die Schöpfung and the Seven Last Words.

C. Sierra (violin): Let me be then a bit of a dissonant weirdo. I recently discovered Mozart's Kleine Gigue K.574. That is almost 20th-century music! Fascinating. And I would really like to make advocacy of the lesser-known quartets by Haydn: the Op.9, Op.17, the Op.42, so linked to Spain…
Mozart, Gigue in G major K574 (Alexander Lonquich)
Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you'd like to see re-evaluated?
H. Poggio (cello): The composers that belong to our CD Heritage: Boccherini, Canales, Almeida and Brunetti.

That is the main reason we decided to record some of their string quartets, but there are more Spanish composers of that century that deserve to be played and known by audiences such as Francesco Corselli (1705-1778; another italian established in Madrid), Antonio de Literes (1673-1747) or José Teixidor y Barceló (1750-1811), to mention just a few of them.

Cuarteto Quiroga: Op.24 No.3 G191 by Boccherini. 

C. Sierra (violin): Indeed, the list of composers working in Spain is fascinating!

Let me then get out of our borders and cry out, very loudly, one great, awesome name: Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach!...

... Probably the wildest, boldest, craziest composer of that time. It is, for me, still both fascinating and irritating! the way he is still de facto kept out of the mainstream repertoire, often ignored, sometimes even neglected. His music is not only incredibly jawdropping, but also essential to understand the true aesthetic spirit of the Enlightenment. 

C.P.E. Bach: a lively (and more correct?) rendering of Sanguineus und Melancholicus H. 579 Wq.161/1, that can be considered a sort of prototype of Genius Movement/Sturm und Drang program, where Sanguineus is Storm and Melancholicus is a typical aspect of Drang (des Herzens). 

J. Puchades (viola):
As a violist I could mention also a composers like Alessandro Rolla (also active in the beginning of the 19th-century) who wrote so many beautiful pieces for strings… and, wandering again in the 19th-century, Ferdinand Ries, whose string quintets I particularly adore.

A. Hevia (violin): Alright then, if we open the gates of the early stage of the next century, let me advocate for Arriaga, whose music is still purely classical and whose three quartets, written, when he was just 16 years!, should be really part of the repertoire of any quartet in the world! I sincerely believe that, if he had lived more than 19 years,... today,... he would have been among the greatest composers of his era!
Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you'd like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
A. Hevia (violin): May I insist on my early-19th-century-but-still-classical deviation? Arriaga String Quartets! Three masterpieces of the string quartet repertoire that are unfortunately rarely known and performed.

             Arriaga: String Quartet No.3 in E flat major

Mov. 1                                            Mov. 2 

Mov. 3                                            Mov. 4 

H. Poggio (cello): To go back to the pure 18th-century, the Boccherini cello concertos are wonderful works that are rarely heard in concerts in comparison with all the other cello concertos, especially in comparison with those of his contemporary Haydn. I particularly like the no. 6 (G.479) and no. 9 (G.482) and believe they should all belong to the standard cello repertoire that is taught in music education institutions as well as played regularly at concert halls.

J. Puchades (viola): Keeping in the Concerto field, as violists we know very well the Hoffmeister D-major viola Concerto, but his B-flat major concerto is truly a marvel, full of inventiveness.

C. Sierra (violin): Now that Helena goes back to Madrid with Boccherini concerti, I would mention the cello concerto by Francisco Brunetti, Gaetano's son: a truly nice piece!

I could, as curiosities and in consideration of this, also advocate all these wonderful pieces that Haydn wrote for weird instruments: Fugue for a Mechanical Clock, Concerti for Lira Organizzata, the incredible Baryton trios

... But, seriously speaking, if I have to choose one single piece, that would be, no doubt, Boccherini's Stabat Mater. How and why is that masterpiece not a more well-known work?... Or at least as respected as Pergolesi's! Boccherini's Stabat is simply a true masterpiece of sheer beauty.

Schloss Esterházy Official Video: the Baryton, favourite instrument played by Prince Esterházy himself and for which Haydn wrote hundreds of splendid compositions.

An extra-rare fully restored clock with organ built by George Pyke (1766): in the video, towards the end, you can hear the organ clock performing Der Wachtelschlag (i.e. Call of the Quail) written by Haydn for organ clock.

The baryton played live by Rainer Zipperling
Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
H. Poggio (cello): There are many books (treatises and methods) that inform us on the performance practice of that period, so, to pick up just two of them, I would mention one from the 18th-century and one from the present time.

1. A treatise on the fundamental principles of violin playing by Leopold Mozart is a crucial source for string players (but not only) on the way musicians thought and performed music at that time.

2. Classical and Romantic Performing Practice by Clive Brown is probably one of the biggest and most complete compilation of studies about historic performing practice and therefore it's very useful.

A. Hevia (violin): I agree. Leopold Mozart's Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing is probably the best source to be used to understand, how to approach the basis and grounds for performing Mozart's music, although there are also other treatises which help us to understand the music making of that era. To mention a few: J. J. Quantz, C.P. E. Bach or J. G. Türk.

J. Puchades (viola): I couldn't agree more. All these sources are essential to approach, with rigor, the music of this period!

C. Sierra (violin): To get out of treatises (let me add to the list J. Matthesson or J.J.Fux) I would suggest the reading of Charles Burney's Present State of Music in France and Italy, a fascinating trip through the reality of music, seen through contemporary 18th-century eyes.

I also believe that it's important to read the texts of Rousseau, B.J. Feijoo, Batteux, Voltaire or Kant (to metion only a few) about music and language, but not only, as well as the poetry of Goethe, the plays of Molière, or the fables of Samaniego,... all these books are of great help to better understand the spirit of that time and to better approach the subtext that is underneath this style of music.

Also, it is essential to learn about classical rhetoric, as this style of music was based on the grounds of spoken language, seeking fundamentally the art of eloquence. To get initiated in this world a good introduction can be found in Judy Tarling's The Weapons of Rhetoric.
Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
H. Poggio (cello): I have seen it many times and I have always enjoyed it, I mean Milos Forman's movie Amadeus. I find it quite carefully made and very respectful with the music itself.

It's really a bit like a great Mozart's Opera,...
... you have a good story to follow and a wonderful music to accompany the plot, so it is almost impossible not to enjoy it! 

C. Sierra (violin): Indeed. Of course we all know that the story of that movie is not faithful to the historical truth, as Salieri had nothing to do with the Requiem and less even with Mozart's death (and we can add also many other inaccuracies or eccentricities), but the beauty of this movie is certainly given by the fact, that it depicts the feeling of, how it must have been, when in direct confrontation with the incredible stature of Mozart's music and of Mozart's talent!

For me this movie is not mainly about Mozart's life, but about the immensity of the shock, sometimes paralyzing, we all face when we confront true beauty!

Amadeus (1985), Director's Cut version:
A nice music centred trailer created by a fan of the movie 

Do you think there's a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?
A. Hevia (violin): The confluence of three great geniuses such as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in Vienna position this city as the epicenter of the development of European music. 

H. Poggio (cello): Indeed, I have to agree...
... Since the great composers of the 18th-century that created and established a tradition and a musical legacy (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert) lived there at some point and it became one of the most important (but not the only one, let's remember Madrid!) musical capital of Europe. Reading about the evolution of music in that culturally flourishing time is certainly revealing, but also visiting the city (museums, composer's houses, palaces, etc.) may very well be a source of inspiration. 

J. Puchades (viola): Well, this is all true, but I would invite people to visit Madrid, home of Boccherini, Brunetti, and so many other great composers… and indeed, as well, a true capital of musical action in the late 18th-century! 

C. Sierra (violin): I would then like to suggest (having Vienna and Madrid already been mentioned) other points of interest: Ezsterháza Palace, in Fertöd, Hungary, or the city of Eisenstadt, as epicentres of Haydn's creative life, are truly inspiring places. I would also suggest Mannheim and, without any doubt, always and forever,...
      ... Salzburg (Salzburg UNESCO)!

Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
Thank you!