With a fairly even balance of mainstream and contemporary repertory, the Tippett Quartet managed to forge a reputation as one of the finest string quartets from the U.K. That said, its recorded output has decidedly favored British contemporary music, particularly the works of Stephen Dodgson, Cecilia McDowall, Howard Goodall, and namesake Michael Tippett. Both critics and audiences have responded enthusiastically to the Tippett Quartet's recordings, as well as to live performances of works by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Smetana, Dvorák, and other more traditional composers. The Tippett Quartet has performed throughout the U.K., including at London's Wigmore Hall, Royal Opera House, and Royal Albert Hall, and at such music festivals as the Three Choirs, Cheltenham, and Lincoln International. It has also been active in educational projects for young musicians, hosting workshops and master classes in compositions for string quartet and various other musical subjects. The Tippett Quartet have recorded for Naxos, EMI, and Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion.
The Tippett Quartet was formed in 1998, taking its name the same week as the composer Michael Tippett died. Original members were Jeremy Isaac and John Mills (violins), Maxine Moore (viola), and Bozidar Vukotic (cello). The Tippett players gave their Wigmore Hall debut in 1998 and thereafter steadily drew positive notice. Throughout the early years of the new century the group performed widely throughout the U.K., mixing in the old and new in its repertory, generally to approving audiences. Its first recording appeared in 2006, an EMI disc of Howard Goodall's soundtrack disc The Seasons.
In 2007 the Tippett Quartet gave the U.K. premiere of John Adams' work Fellow Traveller at London's Kings Place. The following year they launched their inaugural recording project for the Naxos label, an undertaking that would cover the complete string quartets of Michael Tippett. The first volume contained the First, Second, and Fourth quartets, while the second and final installment, issued in 2009, housed the Third and Fifth. Both volumes drew broad critical acclaim.
In 2009 Julia O'Riordan, who had often played with the Tippett Quartet in expanded chamber works during previous years, replaced Moore as the group's violist. Among the ensemble's more popular recordings is the 2011 Signum U.K. CD of Bernard Hermann's Psycho: Suite for String Quartet and other Herrmann works, with clarinetist Julian Bliss.