Castalian Quartet promise the "Castalian sound" in Chichester

Castalian Quartet by Kaupo Kikkas
Castalian Quartet by Kaupo Kikkas

The Castalian Quartet open the latest Chichester Chamber Concerts series on Thursday, October 4 at 7.30pm in the Assembly Room, Chichester Council House, North Street, Chichester (tickets from CFT).

Sini Simonen (violin), Daniel Roberts (violin), Charlotte Bonneton (viola) and Christopher Graves (cello) will perform Haydn – String Quartet in D major Op 76 No 5; Fauré – String Quartet in E minor Op.121; and Beethoven –String Quartet in E minor Op 59 No 2. Formed in 2011, the Castalian Quartet is rapidly emerging as an exciting voice on the international chamber music scene. They have had a number of personnel changes over the years.

“I joined the quartet about five years ago,” says Christopher. “In the present line-up we have been going for about four and a half years. It had been going for a couple of years before I joined. I had been studying in Switzerland for two years, and I had lost a bit of contact with London. When I moved back, I was at a bit of a loose end, looking for avenues. I had known one of the guys from before and then slotted into a machine that was already going.

“The Castalian has changed quite a lot over the years I have been with them. I had been there for about a year when we changed first violinists. We had a long search to find the perfect first violinist after that. It took us about nine months to a year of trialling people, wonderful people, a lot of amazing musicians just playing for a few concerts or one concert or just a couple of rehearsals, and then we would disagree on prospective members. It had to be completely unanimous.

“And then Sini fired off an email. She was wondering what to do next, and she just wrote an email to her teacher who had been one of our teachers, saying she wanted to play in a string quartet. We had been beginning to get a bit despondent, but I had heard her before, and we all absolutely loved her. She joined and we then went through a period of really developing. We did competitions and we rehearsed a lot and we came up with the Castalian sound.

"I think what we are aiming for in our sound is a very high degree of specificity. We try to be very specific about what sound we are creating. We try not to just play the standard sound. We try to find the sound that works with the piece we are playing, the sound that is a real choice about the character of the music.

“For a year now we have been full time, pretty much. It had taken us a couple of years, but it has been an amazing adventure. The fact of playing many, many concerts just makes the quartet develop. We feel increasingly comfortable on stage together. We can trust each other. Our experience just means that we have really grown as a quartet.”

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