• Founded 1997
Spain's Cuarteto Casals started out ambitious and has only grown more so over its two decades of existence. The quartet has equally cultivated central Classical and Romantic works, especially the quartets of Beethoven, Spanish repertory, and newly commissioned contemporary pieces. Named for cellist Pablo Casals, the quartet was formed in 1997 at the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid in 1997. The members were students of Antonello Farulli, and they undertook further study in Barcelona and then in Cologne, Germany, with the Alban Berg Quartet. The studies resulted in a pair of major competition first prizes, at the London International String Quartet Competition in 2000 and the International Brahms Competition in Hamburg in 2002. They have appeared at such halls as the Philharmonie in Berlin, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Musikverein in Vienna, New York's Carnegie Hall, and London's Wigmore Hall, where they have received strong critical praise from the British press. Their concerts have included new works by the likes of Christian Lauba, György Kurtág, Jordi Cervelló, James MacMillan, and David del Puerto. In 2008, the Cuarteto Casals earned an award from London's Borletti-Buitoni Trust that allowed them to purchase a matching set of Classical-era bows, a major contributor to the homogeneous sound that has become the quartet's trademark. First and second violinists Vera Martínez Mehner and Abel Tomàs are even able, unusually, to exchange roles at times.
Beginning with a recording of quartets by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga in 2003, the Cuarteto Casals have recorded exclusively for the Harmonia Mundi label. Their recordings have included works by Debussy, Mozart, Brahms, Haydn, Schubert, Luigi Boccherini during his Spanish period, various contemporary composers, and, as of 2018, a complete cycle of Beethoven's string quartets, which the group also presented in a European tour in concerts where the Beethoven works were paired with new pieces composed especially for the occasion. The recipients of Spain's National Music Prize, the Cuarteto Casals in now in residence at the Barcelona Conservatory.