Chiaroscuro Quartet Biography

What was on display was, in short, a peculiar type of recreative genius.
Michael Dervan The Irish Times
Playing with gut strings is one thing; playing with such assuredness and golden musicality on them is another
Ken Walton Scotsman
One of the most impressive chamber music debut recordings of recent years
Julian Haylock The Strad magazine

Formed in 2005, Chiaroscuro Quartet comprises violinists Alina Ibragimova (Russia) and Pablo Hernán Benedí (Spain), the Swedish violist Emilie Hörnlund and cellist Claire Thirion from France. Dubbed ‘a trailblazer for the authentic performance of High Classical chamber music’ in Gramophone, this international ensemble performs music of the Classical and early Romantic periods on gut strings and with historical bows. The quartet’s unique sound – described in The Observer as ‘a shock to the ears of the best kind’ – is highly acclaimed by audiences and critics all over Europe.

Their growing discography includes recordings of music by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Haydn. Chiaroscuro Quartet was a prize-winner of the German Förderpreis Deutschlandfunk/Musikfest Bremen in 2013 and received Germany’s most prestigious CD award, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2015 for their recording of Mozart’s Quartet in D minor, K. 421 and Mendelssohn’s Second String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13. Among the ensemble’s chamber music partners are renowned artists such as Kristian Bezuidenhout, Trevor Pinnock, Jonathan Cohen, Nicolas Baldeyrou, Chen Halevi, Malcolm Bilson and Christophe Coin.

Recent engagements included their enthusiastically received debut concerts at Vienna Konzerthaus and Philharmonie Warsaw. In April 2016, the quartet embarked on its first tour to Japan playing concerts in Tokyo and Hyogo. Other highlights have taken the ensemble to the Edinburgh International Festival, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London’s Wigmore Hall, Auditorio Nacional de Música Madrid, Music Festival Grafenegg, The Sage Gateshead (recorded for BBC Radio 3), Auditorium du Louvre Paris, Théâtre du Jeu-de-Paume in Aix-en-Provence, Grand Théâtre de Dijon, Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon, West Cork Festival and for a residency to Aldeburgh.

In the 2018/19 season, Chiaroscuro Quartet gives various concerts in the UK, including Wigmore Hall with Annelien van Wauwe, have a return tour to Japan and are Menuhin Festival Artists at Gstaad Festival. With Kristian Bezuidenhout they perform in Southampton, Bristol, Madrid, Vienna, Washington DC, New York, Montreal and Vancouver. Their latest recording, for BIS Records, is Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’  and String Quartet No.9 in G minor, D.173 released in autumn 2018.

Since 2009, Chiaroscuro Quartet has been artist-in-residence in Port-Royal-des-Champs giving a concert series dedicated to Mozart’s string quartets.

This biography is not to be edited without permission of Askonas Holt

Alina Ibragimova

Born in Russia in 1985, Alina studied at the Moscow Gnesin School before moving with her family to the UK in 1996, where she studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal College of Music, and was a member of the Kronberg Academy Masters programme.

Alina's teachers have included Natasha Boyarsky, Gordan Nikolitch and Christian Tetzlaff.

Alina has performed chamber music at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Mozarteum Salzburg, Musikverein Vienna, Carnegie Hall New York, Palais des Beaux Arts Brussels, and at festivals including Salzburg, Verbier and Aldeburgh.

As a soloist Alina appears with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Philharmonia, and all the BBC orchestras.

Pablo Hernan Benedi

Pablo Hernán Benedí was born in Madrid, and began studying at the Padre Antonio Soler Conservatory of San Lorenzo de El Escorial with Polina Kotliarskaya. In 2009 he moved to London to continue his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno and András Kellerand was supported by scholarships from the MMSF, Juventudes Musicales and La Caixa. Since the age of 14, Pablo had regular contacts with Gordan Nikolic who helped shape and nurture his development. 

Pablo is also a founding member of the Trio Isimsiz which was formed in 2011. Currently winners of the Borletti Buitoni Award Fellowship, the trio has also won 1st prize and the audience prize at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition and 2nd prize at the Haydn Vienna Competition.

As a soloist Pablo has performed with the Philarmonia, London Chamber Players and Concerto Budapest amongst others. He also works regularly as leader or section leader with Arcangelo, Concerto Budapest, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Swedish Radio Orchestra. 

Emilie Hörnlund

Emilie was born in Goteborg, Sweden. Formally a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Emilie has held the position of Principal Viola at the Swedish Royal Opera since 2010. Emilie works with many other leading orchestras in the UK and Sweden, including BBC Philharmonic, London Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Kungliga Filharmonikerna Stockholm.

In 2006 Emilie became the first viola player to reach the final of the Ljunggrenska Tavlingen (Swedish Soloist Competition) in Sweden.

Emilie studied at the Falun Music Conservatory, Guildhall School of Music and the Royal College of Music with teachers including Jack Glickman, David Takeno Andriy Viytovych.

She also studied baroque viola with Annette Isserlis.

Claire Thirion

Born in France, Claire Thirion studied at the conservatoires (CNR) in Marseille and Boulogne-Billancourt, then at the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM), before entering the Royal College of Music in London to study with Jérôme Pernoo and Catherine Rimer (Baroque cello).

In 2006 she was awarded the prestigious Tagore Gold Medal.

Since completing her studies, Claire has been in great demand for the performance of both modern compositions and Baroque works. In 2008-2010 she held the position of principal continuo player with Emmanuelle Haïm's ensemble, Le Concert d'Astrée.

Claire works regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and is frequently invited as a guest leader for projects on period instruments with various ensembles, including BandArt and Bel Air Chamber Orchestra.

As an active soloist and chamber musician she regularly performs in France and other European countries either as part of her duo together with Karine Selo, Boris Garlitsky or Christophe Coin.