Sacconi Quartet

String Quartet

At a glance

Sacconi Quartet

String Quartet

An exceptional ensemble… a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detail.
Musical Opinion


One of the UK's leading string quartets, the award-winning Sacconi Quartet continues to perform with its four founder members. It is celebrated for its creativity, energy and integrity of interpretation.

Biography —

Ben Hancox violin
Hannah Dawson violin
Robin Ashwell viola
Cara Berridge cello

The award-winning Sacconi Quartet are recognised for their unanimous and compelling ensemble, consistently communicating with a fresh and imaginative approach. Performing with style and commitment, the quartet are known throughout the world for their creativity and integrity of interpretation. Formed in 2001, their four founder members continue to demonstrate a shared passion for string quartet repertoire, infectiously reaching out to audiences with their energy and enthusiasm. The Sacconi enjoy a busy international career, performing regularly across the world, at Europe’s major venues, in recordings and on radio broadcasts. The Sacconi are Quartet in Association at the Royal College of Music.

The Sacconis’ prolific recording career has covered an extremely broad selection of repertoire. In 2020 they will record a new disc of works by Roxanna Panufnik for Signum Classics, with guest artists Charles Owen, Roderick Williams, Nicholas Daniel and Amy Harman. The disc will also feature a brand new commission which the Sacconi will premiere at their Folkestone Festival in May 2020. 2017 saw the release of three new CDs by the Sacconi Quartet. In Damascus, their CD of music by Jonathan Dove including In Damascus, commissioned by the quartet, and featuring Mark Padmore and Charles Owen, hit the Classical Top Ten, and was chosen as one of Gramophone Magazine’s Recordings of the Year: “This important release cannot be recommended too highly”. Their complete recording of Graham Fitkin’s string quartets was given rave reviews on Radio 3’s Record Review, in Gramophone Magazine and in The Strad.  Their CD of three quintets by John McCabe featured the composer on piano in The Woman by the Sea, horn player David Pyatt in the Horn Quintet written for Pyatt and the Sacconis, and Roderick Williams in Silver Nocturnes.

The 2019-20 season sees the quartet make their debuts in Russia (with Peter Donohoe), Mexico (with Freddy Kempf) and Lebanon (Al Bustan Festival). They return to the Wigmore Hall for three concerts, perform two UK tours, perform at festivals including Swaledale, Canterbury, Monkstown, Egerton and Lakeside Chamber Music, and perform with pianist Angela Hewitt in Italy. They also continue their performances of Dove’s In Damascus with Mark Padmore and Robin Tritschler, as well as giving several performances of their inimitable Beethoven in the Dark. Firm advocates of new music, the Sacconi will also give the world premieres of new quartets by Judith Bingham (Kings Place), Roxanna Panufnik (Folkestone) and John Woolrich (Little Missenden Festival). Future commissions and premieres include Jonathan Dove, Graham Fitkin and Nicola LeFanu.

2020 will see thirteenth year of the Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone, featuring a programme of Russian piano quintets with Peter Donohoe, collaborations with David Campbell and musicians from the Royal College of Music, and the World Premiere of their commission from Roxanna Panufnik. The Sacconi Festival is now firmly established among the UK’s major chamber music festivals and attracts audiences from far and near for its vibrant atmosphere and dynamic programming.

In Summer 2015 the quartet launched HEARTFELT, their most innovative project to date. A radical re-interpretation of Beethoven’s iconic String Quartet in A minor opus 132, HEARTFELT pushed the boundaries of chamber music through combining sound, light and touch, for a truly unique performance in which audience members connected with each performer’s heartbeat through holding robotic ‘hearts’. Developed in a unique collaboration with robotics designers Rusty Squid and lighting designer Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn, and funded by Arts Council England, HEARTFELT received 4-star reviews from The Guardian and The Independent, and was described by the latter as “a powerful way to experience the visceral physicality of Beethoven’s profound thanksgiving”.

The name Sacconi Quartet comes from the outstanding twentieth-century Italian luthier and restorer Simone Sacconi, whose book The Secrets of Stradivari is considered an indispensable reference for violin makers. Ben Hancox plays a 1932 Sacconi violin and Robin Ashwell a 1934 Sacconi viola, both made in New York.  Hannah Dawson plays a 1927 Sacconi violin made in Rome, and Cara Berridge plays a Nicolaus Gagliano cello from 1781.  Ben, Hannah & Cara have all been generously loaned these instruments by the Royal Society of Musicians, a charity which helps musicians in need, for which they are extremely grateful.  Robin is indebted to Ellen Solomon for the use of his viola.

The Sacconi Quartet celebrates its 20th Anniversary in the 2021-22 season.

February 2020
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Reviews —

The overall impact of the work and its performance was profound... their fine balance and near flawless ensemble provided the bedrock for a graceful yet rhythmically vital interpretation.

The Guardian

To start the concert, the Sacconi Quartet delighted in Haydn, distinguished by clean, classical playing, often sparing vibrato. Both in Haydn and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, the leader’s delicate phrasing […] were matched in the Death second movement by finely balanced chording and blend from his colleagues […] the Sacconi Quartet is a young group to watch out for.

The Classical Source

Quartets are often lauded for their longevity […] so while the Sacconi is a mere toddler at 10 years, the likelihood of them celebrating their fortieth anniversary is worth putting money on.

Classic FM Magazine

The Sacconi, a fast rising British string quartet … bring something fresh and distinctive. Dvorak’s American Quartet has a light touch and springy rhythms that suit the music perfectly.

The Times

…British Sacconi Quartet provided the musical backdrops, with immaculate playing and precise ensemble, bringing Dealzey’s characterful music to colorful life.

The Edinburgh Reporter

Ample vigor in the vivace movements, yet space is allowed to capture the witticism in a turn of phrase; when the mood darkens in the adagio of No. 2 the players provide rich, Gypsy-inflected hues. These are performances to treasure and one awaits eagerly the next release from the ensemble’s new label.

Classical Music

A beautiful blend of sound…highly engaging

The Times

A quartet of genuine substance

The Daily Telegraph

The festival sensation, the young Sacconi Quartet completely bowled over a packed audience. The chemistry between these four young players is tangible and magical.

The Scotsman

An exceptional ensemble…a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detail

Musical Opinion

Great power and sweetness…intimate closeness.

The Spectator

Enviable technical prowess

The Strad

Selected Discography —

Graham Fitkin String Quartets

...the ever-outstanding Sacconi Quartet have turned their attention to another outstanding British composer... A terrific disc that I encourage everyone to buy

Gramophone Magazine - January 2018 (Guy Rickards)

John McCabe: Silver Nocturnes

McCabe's partnership with the Sacconi Quartet yields the finest performance of this work I have ever heard... I cannot recommend this strongly enough.

Gramophone Magazine - December 2017 (Guy Rickards)

Jonathan Dove: In Damascus

This important release cannot be recommended too highly.

Gramophone Magazine - Recording of the Month, August 2017

Beethoven and Mendelssohn String Quartets

An illuminating pairing… the playing is fresh and pliable, each work illuminating the other… the Sacconi Quartet are front-runners.

The Observer

Beethoven String Quartets opus 18 (no. 1, 4 & 6)

…hearing the precision and vitality to these quartets makes its success easy to understand […]this is an ensemble to keep an eye on, with hopefully more Beethoven quartets to follow

Suk: Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn Saint Wenceslas, Op. 35a / Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, From My Life / Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, "American

The Sacconi […] bring something fresh and distinctive. Dvorak’s American Quartet has a light touch and springy rhythms that suit the music perfectly.

The Times

Haydn String Quartets opus 54 (no.1, 2 &3)

These are fascinating works and the players respond intelligently to the ideas that must have startled the more conventional Parisians […] this is good Haydn playing.

International Record Review

Ravel: String Quartet in F / Lalo: String Quartet, opus 45 / Turina: Prayer of the Bullfighter

The finest version of the Ravel Quartet currently available

MusicWeb International
See full discography

Related Media —

Sacconi Chamber Music Festival 2016

Highlights from the ninth Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone from 20-22 May 2016, which included the world premiere of Jonathan Dove's 'In Damascus' for the Sacconi Quartet and tenor Mark Padmore. View on YouTube


An immersive, interactive performance of Beethoven's String Quartet in A minor Op.132 which pushes the boundaries of chamber music as audience members are invited to hold each performer's heartbeat, through holding robotic 'hearts'. Filmed in 2015. View on YouTube

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  • Ellie Shouls