The Eliot Quartet is one of the few string quartets in the world specializing in the performance of late-classical and early-romantic repertoire on period instruments. Formed in 2012 in The Netherlands, the players in the ensemble are all active period performers who share a special interest for studying and performing Beethoven’s string quartets, in particular his extraordinary ‘Late Quartets’ which have rarely been performed or recorded on period instruments.
The Eliot Quartet’s name was inspired by the poet T.S Eliot’s profound ‘Four Quartets’, in which he attempted to ‘go beyond poetry, as Beethoven in the late quartets went beyond music’. Violinist Rachel Stroud, is doing her doctorate at King’s College, Cambridge University, exploring notation and performance in Beethoven’s Late String Quartets. Rebecca Huber is Artistic Director and Concertmaster of the orchestra “Les Vents Atlantques”, of which Rachel is also a founding member, an orchestra which performs classical and romantic repertoire on period instruments without a conductor. Rebecca Rosen is one of the leading baroque cellists of her generation, and is co-founder of the Collegium Musicum Den Haag.
The Eliot Quartet performs all of the quartets they work on with the aim of getting a step closer to the spirit in which 19th-century and performers and listeners would have heard the works; by approaching the later repertoire after a complete immersion in baroque and earlier classical works, and by rehearsing without previously listening to any modern recordings of the quartets, the Quartet attempt to emphasize afresh the elements of surprise, humour and outlandish originality in not only Beethoven’s Late Quartets, but also in the string quartets of Haydn and Mozart.
Members of the Quartet have worked closely with experts in the field, such as Claire Holden and Jaap ter Linden, in order to expand their knowledge of historical styles of bowing and notation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the Quartet have also recently received a masterclasses from Christoph Coin, cellist of the renowned ‘Quatuor Mosaiques’ on the first movement of Beethoven’s challenging String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 132.