Alexander Balanescu | James Shenton | Helen Kamminga | Nicholas Holland
Since its formation in 1987, the Balanescu Quartet has acquired a reputation as one of the leading contemporary music groups in the world today. Its guiding force has been the Romanian born violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu, who has led the Quartet across musical frontiers into uncharted territory. This search to push the limits of the string quartet, has revealed an ensemble with a sensibility nearer to a band rather than a classical group, and reflects Balanescu's passionate belief in the intercommunication and fluidity between different musical fields. Having collaborated with composers such as Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars, "Lounge Lizard" John Lurie, Jack de Johnette, Ornette Coleman, David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, and developed projects inspired by Romanian traditional music as well as Kraftwerk, the Balanescu Quartet has fashioned a writing and performing style that sets them apart from any other string quartet.
Their live performances are notable for sheer energy and dynamism, and they have played in locations as wildly contrasting as New York's Knitting Factory and London's Roundhouse to The Lincoln Centre and Wembley Arena. They are constantly looking for ways in which to present their music in a new context.
The Quartet's recordings of original music include the albums Possessed, Luminitza (inspired by the changes in Eastern Europe after 1989), Angels and Insects (soundtrack to the 1995 film), Maria T (a homage to the great Romanian singer Maria Tanase) and This is the Balanescu Quartet (MUTE Records), East meets East (Consipio Records), Il Partigiano Johnny (soundtrack to the film, Virgin Extra Labels), The Island (Saphrane) as well as many collaborations. The Quartet was recently signed up to UNIVERSAL Records who re-released Possessed, Luminitza, Angels and Insects and Maria T as well as commissioning a new album.