photo: Ulysses Quartet

Intimacy, flexibility, and ample artistic potential. The historical significance of the string quartet lies in its role as a vehicle for musical innovation and expression. From its humble beginnings with Haydn to its continued relevance in contemporary classical music, the string quartet remains a beloved and revered form, cherished by composers, performers, and audiences alike.

We’ve recently looked back through our catalog at some notable examples of the genre shining with modern brilliance. Read on for a look at historic masterworks with a modern tone and new gems that explore the intersections of music and film.

Visual String Quartets

The string quartet genre has been celebrated by composers throughout history for the innovation it inspires. Furthermore, visual albums offer artists the opportunity to expand their creative vision beyond the music itself, providing audiences with a multi-dimensional and immersive experience that engages both the auditory and visual senses.

QUADRANTS VOL 5 / Benda Quartet

The award-winning Benda Quartet assembles on QUADRANTS VOL. 5 to deliver a stunning, razor-sharp collection of contemporary string works. Filmed at the historic Dul Michal mine in Ostrava, CZ, this Navona Records releases offers a wide range of sounds and emotions ranging from warm, elegant expressions to high-octane passages and more — a crystal-clear reflection of the musical and technical heights of the string quartet genre.


A wide range of sounds and emotions emerge in this body of work, ranging from warm, elegant expressions to high-octane passages and more.

Video: preview of QUADRANTS VOL 5

PLAYING ON THE EDGE 3 / Sirius Quartet

Performed by the Sirius Quartet, PLAYING ON THE EDGE 3 offers up a vibrant and challenging selection of music for string quartet from multiple contemporary composers in a verbose continuation of theme. It dives into the concept of beauty, expressing itself in an extraordinary duality, with each work contributing its own unique take on the whole.

Playing on the Edge 3

With this third installment, the Sirius Quartet proves that they’re not just playing on the edge — they’re living on it too.

Video: preview of PLAYING ON THE EDGE 3

Modern Presentations of Historic Works

The beauty of string quartet music lies in its timelessness. Despite evolving musical tastes and cultural shifts, the emotional depth and aesthetic beauty of works by composers like Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and others remain as captivating and relevant today as they were centuries ago. Much to the benefit of classical music enthusiasts, works by these great masters are continuously explored by contemporary performers, and some pieces are even being discovered for the first time.

Leonard Bernstein: Music for String Quartet / Lucia Lin, Natalie Rose Kress, Danny Kim, Ronald Feldman

Composed by an 18-year-old Bernstein during his studies at Harvard, Music for String Quartet has been steadfastly shepherded from its re-discovery to this historic release by former Boston Symphony Orchestra Librarian John Perkel. “Movement I” and the newly-discovered “Movement II,” which was found within the U.S. Library of Congress, is a serendipitous release of fascinating works, captured in close, warm sound.

“…this release is a remarkable act of scholarship that resurrects a seminal moment in the history of American classical music, thoughtfully curated and meticulously executed.”

Classical Music Daily


Music for String Quartet

MUSIC FOR STRING QUARTET is the world premiere recording of renowned composer Leonard Bernstein’s long-lost work.

Leós Janácek: String Quartet No. 2: Intimate Letters / Ulysses Quartet

Leós Janácek’s second string quartet, Intimate Letters, is regarded as a highlight of the modern string quartet literature. It was written during the composer’s last year of life, in early 1928, inspired by the aging composer’s profound love for a Czech woman named Kamila Stösslová.

It is one of Janáček’s most mature and powerful works, representing his tumultuous and mysterious relationship with the much younger Stösslová, and is translated with arresting artistry and pin-point accuracy by the Ulysses Quartet on SHADES OF ROMANI FOLKLORE.



SHADES OF ROMANI FOLKLORE explores the rich and vibrant tradition of Romani music.

Playlist: Visionary String Quartets / Listen on Spotify