Release Date: June 14, 2019
Catalog #: NV6234
Format: Digital & Physical
20th Century
21st Century
String Quartet

String Quartets 1, 2, & 3

Eleanor Alberga composer

Ensemble Arcadiana
Thomas Bowes violin 1
Jacqueline Shave/Oscar Perks violin 2
Andres Kaljuste viola
Jonathan Swensen cello

With her richly diverse background and commissions from the BBC Proms and The Royal Opera, one would expect that composer Eleanor Alberga’s Navona Records release would be nothing short of a showstopper. It is just that and more. The three pieces on her STRING QUARTETS 1, 2 & 3 offer a penetrating view into Alberga’s creative genius. The album pulls the absolute best from the gifted Ensemble Arcadiana.

STRING QUARTETS 1, 2 & 3 begins with the dazzling and giddying String Quartet no 1. The composer describes it as being inspired by a lecture on physics and the fact that everything, including our own bodies, are essentially made of stardust. Rich and lyrical yet spellbindingly complex, the strings seem to interact with each other like comets in a celestial soundscape. String Quartet no 2 is, in the words of the composer, more concise and compact than the first. Its single movement span presents traditional forms embedded in a truly forward-thinking piece, bringing out Alberga’s great skills as an artist and composer. String Quartet no 3 takes the album in a different direction from the first two pieces, mixing tonality with 12-tone elements. Notably modern yet decidedly enjoyable to the ear (and to the performers, who described the third movement as like the “play of sunlight on water”), String Quartet no 3 bridges styles and evolves naturally as the piece progresses. It takes a truly skilled, genuinely inspired composer to write in a way that is so complex and yet sounds so effortless.

STRING QUARTETS 1, 2 & 3 is a string quartet album like no other, taking listeners on a heart stopping journey through a composer’s richly creative mind and an ensemble’s cohesive, dynamic artistry. As the string quartet genre continues to evolve, one can be sure that Eleanor Alberga will remain at the forefront for years to come.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Artist Information

Eleanor Alberga


Born 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist. Five years later she was composing works for the piano. In 1968 she won the biennial Royal Schools of Music Scholarship for the West Indies, which she took up in 1970 at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying piano and singing. But a budding career as a solo pianist — she was one of three finalists in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK in 1974 — was further augmented by composition with her arrival at The London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1978. Under the inspirational leadership of its Artistic Director, Robert Cohan, she became one of the very few pianists with the deepest understanding of modern dance and her company class improvisations became the stuff of legend.

Thomas Bowes


Thomas Bowes is one of the United Kingdom’s finest violinists. He is very active in the realm of cinema, and millions have heard him on the soundtracks of his 200+ film credits. Most recently he was featured as the solo violinist in Alexandre Desplat’s score for Guillermo del Toro’s award-winning stop-motion film Pinocchio.