“From the very first moment the audience was charmed by the ideally even tone of all the instruments. The contours of the theme, the voice leading, the lively rhythms and tempos, the sound effects — all these were expressively conveyed in the proper style. We were simply wonderstruck by the richness of colour. What subtle colours can be created by the hands of really talented artists!”; “Even in the most difficult passages the Quartet’s tone remains beautiful. Free and independent music making, it goes without saying, is the main characteristic of the ensemble”; “Čiurlionis Quartet – Wow! The ensemble is flawless and the interpretations sincere and exceptionally precise. The concert was marvellous…” – such and similar reviews were published in Magyar Hírlap (Hungary), Schwarzwälder Bote (Germany) and Bergens Tidende (Norway) following the Čiurlionis Quartet‘s tour in these countries.
Founded in 1968, the Čiurlionis Quartet has a reputation of an inventive and technically advanced collective. In 1990, the ensemble was among the first to receive the prestigious Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize, the highest award in Lithuania. In 2004, the Čiurlionis Quartet captured second prize in the International Chamber Music Competition in Schweinfurt, Germany; the Lithuanian Musicians’ Union awarded it with the Gold Disc. In 2005, the Čiurlionis Quartet attracted much attention of the international audiences and media by giving concerts in the EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan, and the presentation of its VCD at the world’s music fair MIDEM 2005 in Cannes, France. The Čiurlionis Quartet has performed all across Europe: from Iceland to Russia and from Norway to Italy; it has also toured Canada, UAE, the USA, Mexico, Japan and China. The collective has appeared in such venues as Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Beethovenhaus in Bonn, Schauspielhaus in Berlin, Musée d’Orsay in Paris and many others; it has been invited to perform at numerous prestigious festivals, including the Pražské Jaro, Berliner Festwochen, Festival van Vlaanderen, Janačkuv Mai, Moravian Autumn, Schleswig-Holstein, Meranofest, Europamusikale and Amadeo in Zagreb. Following its debut at the Royal Festival Hall in London, the reviewer of Musical Opinion, the Britain’s oldest classical music magazine, wrote about the Quartet’s exquisite interpretation “proving to be a timely reminder to chamber music lovers in London of what genuine quartet playing should be.”
The repertoire of the Čiurlionis Quartet is comprised of more than 300 works, embracing classical and romantic works as well as opuses of the Lithuanian and the 20th composers. It has premiered works by Feliksas Bajoras, Vytautas Barkauskas, Jurgis Juozapaitis, Diana Čemerytė and many other Lithuanian composers. In January of 2014, the Čiurlionis Quartet opened Kristijonas Donelaitis’ year with Lithuanian premieres. It has presented many innovative programmes and series of portrait concerts devoted to Brahms, Bartók, Mozart, Shostakovich, Schubert, Schumann, Latin American composers, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis and other Lithuanian composers. During 2011 concert season, dedicated to the death centenary of Čiurlionis, the Quartet gave 100 concerts (featuring works by Čiurlionis) throughout Lithuania and abroad finishing the tour in the UNESCO hall in Paris. In 2014, the Čiurlionis Quartet among other places travelled to Xi’an, China; performed at the Latvian Independence Day celebration in Riga.
The major part of its extensive repertoire has been recorded by the national and international radio stations and recording studios and released as LP’s and CD’s. Noteworthy are the recordings with the well-known pianist Lev Natochenny, the CD of works by Flemish composer Koos de Muinck (recorded in the Netherlands), the VCD release, etc. The Čiurlionis Quartet is currently expanding its perspective as a classical ensemble to include jazz and world music projects. The list of its stage partners includes Belgian clarinettist Eddy Vanoosthuyse, renowned Lithuanian pianists Jurgis Karnavičius and Gabrielius Alekna, Jazz Island ensemble to name but a few.
The year 2015 is marked with the name of Mykolas Kleopas Oginskis, celebrating his 250th birth anniversary. At the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, the Čiurlionis Quartet performed a special programme Letters About Music (named after the key writings of this outstanding personality). During the tour dedicated to the Oginskis year the Quartet also appeared at other venues, including Auditorium del Parco (L‘Aquila, Italy) and Chiesa di Santo Stanislao (Rome, Italy).
Members of the Quartet also appear as soloists, collaborate in various ensembles and creative projects, serve as jury members in various international competitions and lead master classes. The musicians play the unique instruments produced by the 18th century Italian masters.