Chiaroscuro Quartet Biography

Playing with gut strings is one thing; playing with such assuredness and golden musicality on them is another
Ken Walton Scotsman, March 2015
One of the most impressive chamber music debut recordings of recent years
Julian Haylock The Strad magazine

Formed in 2005, the 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 and Mendelssohn. The 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. 

For the 2016/17 season, the Chiaroscuro Quartet appears on stage for various recitals in the UK including, London, Cardiff, Manchester and Cheltenham and well as performances in Dortmund, Berlin, Oslo, Hasselt and Ghent. Their latest recording will be released in July 2016 on BIS Records, featuring Haydn’s Opus 20 quartets.  

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

June 2016 - 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, Spain. He studied at the Padre Antonio Soler Conservatory in San Lorenzo de El Escorial with Fernando Rius and Polina Kotliarskaya, before coming to London in 2009 to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno, supported by scholarships from the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, Juventudes Musicales and La Caixa.

As well as being a member of the Chiaroscuro Quartet, Pablo is a founding member of the Trio Isimsiz, having performed in venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Barbican Hall and Royal Festival Hall. In 2015 they won the 1st prize and the audience prize at the Trondheim International chamber music competition.

As a soloist Pablo has performed with London Chamber Players, Padre Antonio Soler Symphony Orchestra and the Philarmonia. He also regularly works as leader or section leader with groups like Arcangelo, Sinfonia Cumry and Academy of Ancient Music. He also has appeared in festivals such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lockenhaus.


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.