The Amati Quartet has developed a strong reputation for its uniqueness of sound, specifically for its sonic unanimity, grasp of structure, and all-encompassing technique. Since the mid-'80s it has been ranked not only among the finest Swiss string quartets, but among the most talented European quartets to have emerged from the latter twentieth century. The repertory is broad, encompassing works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Szymanowski, Janácek, Zemlinsky, Bartók, Shostakovich, and Ravel. They have also performed many contemporary works, including premieres of compositions written specifically for them by American minimalist Terry Riley and prominent Swiss composer Robert Suter. The group has regularly concertized throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia, and in the most prestigious concert halls, including New York's Carnegie Hall, Vienna's Musikverein, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London's Wigmore Hall, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Paris' Champs-Elysees, and the Berlin Konzerthaus. The Amati String Quartet has made numerous recordings for a variety of European labels, including Jecklin, K & K Verlagsanstalt, Venetian Classics, and Divox Records. In 2008, its personnel consisted of violinists Sebastian Hamann and Katarzyna Nawrotek, violist Nicolas Corti, and cellist Claudius Herrmann.
The Amati Quartet was founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1981 and its rise to prominence was almost immediate: in 1982 it won the Premier Grand Prix at the Evian International Competition and the following year captured the City of Zurich's Arts Prize. The group's competition résumé was crowned with First Prize at the Karl Klinger Competition in Munich, Germany, in 1986.
The Amati players made one of their most successful recordings the following year, the Shostakovich String Quartets 3 & 7, released by Jecklin. That effort, as well as a later disc of Ravel and Szymanowski quartets, received the Prize of the German Record Reviewers. Throughout the 1990s and first decade of the new century, the Amati players turned out a steady stream of highly acclaimed recordings, including the 2002 Columns Classic CD of the Schubert "Trout" Quintet and Mendelssohn's Piano Sextet. The Amati's U.S. tour in 2003 was another great success and included an acclaimed San Francisco debut in a program of Beethoven (Op. 18/5), Janácek (the Kreutzer Sonata), Schubert (the Rosamunde), and other works. Among the Amati Quartet's later recordings is the 2007 release on Divox Records of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet and String Quartet No. 12, with pianist Bruno Canino.