The Coull String Quartet
The Coull Quartet is one of the more venerable and long-standing English string quartets, perhaps best known for performances of British quartet music from the 20th and 21st centuries. It has commissioned and premiered works by Nicholas Maw, David Matthews, Michael Blake Watkins, Edward Cowie, and Robert Simpson, whose Viola Quintet and String Quartets No. 10, No. 11, and No. 12 were recorded to acclaim. But the Coull Quartet has also enjoyed great success in the standard repertory, performing works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvorák, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and an array of other major composers. It has regularly toured throughout the U.K., Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia. It has regularly appeared on BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, as well as radio programs in Western Europe and the U.S. It has amassed a sizable discography, available from several labels including Somm, Hyperion, Virgin Classics, and ArtHaus Musik. The Coull Quartet was founded in 1974 by Roger Coull, then a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He drew the group's membership from other talented string players at the famed music school, which included the ensemble's other long-standing member, second violinist Philip Gallaway. There have been numerous personnel changes over the years, but the 2012 membership included both Coull and Gallaway, along with Rose Redgrave (viola) and Nicholas Roberts (cello). From 1977 the Coull Quartet has served as quartet-in-residence at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK. Among its earliest recordings was a 1981 Phoenix LP of Roger Steptoe music that included his String Quartet No. 1. In the late 1970s the Coull players met Simpson, who composed his 1983 String Quartet No. 10 under commission from the University of Warwick, to mark the Coull's tenth anniversary in 1984. Other notable premieres of Simpson's works followed, including the Twelfth Quartet (1987) at the 1988 Nottingham Festival. But the quartet made headway in other areas of the repertory, especially on recordings: from 1989-1992 it recorded a highly praised cycle of the Mendelssohn quartets for Hyperion, and from 1997-2007 it traversed the complete Schubert quartets in six volumes for Upbeat Classics. The Coull players were also delving into rarely heard music from the past, as evidenced by their acclaimed performance at the 2003 Cambridge Music Festival of Antoine Reicha's forgotten G major String Quartet, Op. 48/2 (1802), a work they recorded for Regis Records that was issued in 2008. 2008 was also the year the Coull players launched their Tavern Concert Project with a concert at the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, London, featuring a program of Onslow and Spohr works. The project is an attempt to resurrect the practice of classical music performance at popular pubs. In 2009 the Coull Quartet toured China with Brazilian pianist Clelia Iruzun, giving notable concerts in Beijing and Shanghai. Among the Coull's more acclaimed recordings is the 2010 CD on the Somm label of the Sibelius Quartet (Voces Intimae) and Piano Quintet in G minor, with pianist Martin Roscoe.
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