The Primrose Piano Quartet
Susanne Stanzeleit, violin
Dorothea Vogel, viola
Andrew Fuller, cello
John Thwaites, piano
Photo, Lester Barnes
The Primrose Piano Quartet was formed in 2004 by pianist John Thwaites and three of the UK's most renowned chamber musicians (Lindsay, Sorrel, Edinburgh, Maggini Quartets). It is named after the great Scottish violist, William Primrose, who himself played in the Festival Piano Quartet. Alongside their performances of the major repertoire, the Primrose Quartet have researched widely the forgotten legacy of 20th century English composers, and have revived a number of remarkable and unjustly neglected piano quartets. Their award-winning recordings feature works by Dunhill, Hurlstone, Quilter, Bax, Scott, Alwyn, Howells and Frank Bridge. Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies wrote his Piano Quartet for the Primrose in 2008; this twenty-minute piece premièred at the Cheltenham Festival has proved very appealing, and was recorded in 2009 for the Meridian label.
In 2009 an exciting commission, born out of their strong Scottish connections and timed to celebrate Robert Burns’s 250th anniversary, was the “Burns Air Variations". The Primrose invited a number of their composer friends to write a short variation each on Burns' "By Yon Castle Wa", and the resulting 30-minute work received premières in Tunbridge Wells, at the Sound Festival, and at Kings Place. Sally Beamish, John Casken, Jacques Cohen, Peter Fribbins, Francis Pott, Zoë Martlew, Piers Hellawell and Stephen Goss are among those who contributed.
Two new CDs were recorded in 2010 for the Meridian label: Richard Strauss Piano Quartet, Violin Sonata and Cello Sonata; Maxwell Davies' Piano Quartet, the Burns Air Variations and a previously unrecorded Piano Quintet by Dmitri Smirnov. In 2011 the Quartet recorded a CD of Fauré and Brahms piano quartets, performed on a piano chosen by Brahms, and their latest CD of Schubert chamber works was released in 2014.
For 2014 the Primrose have been selected for the Making Music Concert Promoters' Network for a third time, and have a busy performing season both in the UK and abroad, including an extensive tour of Denmark and a visit to Germany in 2015. They are delighted to have commissioned leading British composer, Anthony Payne, to write a piano quartet premièred in February 2015 at London's Kings Place. This season will also see the recording of two further CDs of Elgar, Payne, Bowen and Brahms chamber works. Their own festival in the Hampshire Village of West Meon is now in its sixth year.
One of the leading violinists of her generation, Susanne has performed worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician. She is well known for her unusually challenging and extensive repertoire, featuring many commissions and UK premieres of works by composers such as Peter Maxwell Davies, John Adams, Lou Harrison, Gyorgy Kurtág, John Woolrich, Philip Cashian and many others. Susanne regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, German Radio and other major TV and radio stations abroad. She has received rave reviews and a Gramophone Award nomination for her long list of commercial recordings, which feature the complete works of Bartók, Enescu and Dvorák as well as Beethoven violin sonatas, works by Charles Camilleri and a series of English sonata recordings. Chamber discs include six discs with the Edinburgh Quartet, chamber music by Kenneth Leighton and two CDs of British piano quartets with the Primrose Quartet, all on Meridian. Susanne is now leader of the Maggini Quartet, having been first violin of the Edinburgh String Quartet until 2002 and co-leader of Sinfonia 21, as well as guest-leading many of the foremost chamber orchestras and contemporary music groups in the UK. Susanne taught at the Royal Welsh College, was Head of Strings at the London College of Music from 2002 - 2006 and now teaches at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Dorothea Vogel (Viola) was born in Switzerland and studied with Rudolf Weber in Winterthur. After winning first prize in the Swiss Youth Competition, Dorothea won scholarships to study with Paul Coletti at the Peabody Institute, USA, and with David Takeno and Micaela Comberti at the Guildhall School in London, where she graduated with the coveted Concert Recital Diploma. She was a founder member of the Amar Quartet. Dorothea has played the baroque viola in the Kings Consort and Florilegium and has been both principal viola in the Gustav Mahler Orchestra and the World Youth Orchestra in Israel. She has appeared as a soloist with the Zurich Kammerorchester and at London's Wigmore Hall. She teaches Chamber Music at Pro Corda. Her viola is by Ludovico Rastelli, Genoa, circa 1800.
has a busy and varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, guest principal, session musician and teacher. His duo partnership with Pianist Michael Dussek has had great success with concerts and recordings, their CDs of Cello works on the Dutton Vocalion label receiving critical acclaim, several being selected as Editor's Choice in Gramophone Magazine. He was Associate Principal with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years, leaving in 1997 to concentrate on solo and chamber music. Since then he has regularly worked as guest principal for the RPO as well as many other orchestras including the Philharmonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Hallé Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia and the Orchestra of St Johns. As chamber musician he is also a member of Primavera. He has made many appearances at The Wigmore Hall and at festivals and music clubs around the world. He was a member of the York Piano Trio, the Fibonacci sequence and Aquarius. He has also been a regular guest player with other Groups including the Sorrel, Brindisi and Coull String Quartets, Endymion and the Schubert Ensemble. He was a visiting teacher at the Birmingham Conservatoire from 1997 to 2003 and regularly coaches at the Royal Academy of Music and for UK youth orchestras. ￼
has a varied performing career. He has been working with Alexander Baillie for thirty years. They appeared in the first and last Manchester International Cello Festivals, released a recital CD in 2000, and selected live performances in 2009. Another long-standing association is with Sue Lowe's Cello Schools, and John has performed with Johannes Goritzki, Louise Hopkins, Pierre Doumenge, Li Wei, Oleg Kogan, Melissa Phelps, Alexander Ivashkin and Alexander Boyarsky. Alongside relationships with the Schidlof, Maggini, Emperor, Martinu and Brodsky Quartets, a performance of Lyapunov's Sextet with the Dante Quartet on Dutton Digital was BBC Music Magazine's chamber music choice for November 2004. John is also a member of the Audley Horn Trio (Stanzeleit, Stirling, Thwaites) and the Da Vinci Piano Trio (Moffatt, Irvine, Thwaites). Recent concerto performances include Grieg at St John's Smith Square and Tchaikovsky at the Royal College of Music.
Formerly Head of Piano at Christ's Hospital and a tutor at GSMD, John is now Head of Keyboard Studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire and Course Director of Cadenza International Summer Music School, a piano and strings festival resident at the Purcell School, London, in July.