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 virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu, who has lead the quartet across musical frontiers into new unchartered 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. From its roots as collaborators with composers such as Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars, through projects with Lounge Lizard John Lurie, Jack de Johnette, Ornette Coleman, David Byrne, the Pet Shop Boys, Spiritualized, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk, they have developed their own unique writing and performing style setting them apart from any other string quartet.
Their live performances are notable for their sheer energy and dynamism. They have played in locations as wildly contrasting as London’s South Bank Centre and New York’s Knitting Factory – they even opened to 10,000 Pet Shop Boys fans at Wembley Arena, and are constantly looking for venues in which to present their music in a new context.
Balanescu writes the material that the group performs, and the concert repertoire very often is connected to commissions: for contemporary dance (scores for Meryl Tankard, Virgilio Sieni, Jochen Urlich, Rosemary Lee among others), film and television (including the scores for Phil Haas’s “Angels and Insects”, Guido Chiesa’s “Il Partigiano Johnny”, Renny Bartlett’s “Eisenstein”, Catalin Mitulescu’s ”How I Spent the End of the World”, and several animation films for Phil Mulloy, among them the prize winning “Sound of Music” at Zagreb International Film Festival) and theatre (incidental music for Joanne Akalaitis’s production of “Life’s a dream” for Chicago’s Court Theatre, “Supermarket” directed by Paolo Magelli in Theatre de la Place, Liege, ”L’Utopie fatigue les escargots” for the theatre group Cabaret Dromesko).
The quartet’s recordings of original music include the albums “Possessed”, “Luminitza” (inspired by the changes in Eastern Europe after 1989) and “Angels and Insects” (MUTE Records), “East meets East” (Consipio), “Il Partigiano Johnny” (Virgin Extra Labels) and many collaborations, among them with the Pet Shop Boys, David Byrne, Rabih Abou Khalil and Spiritualized. 2005 saw the release of the album “Maria T” which engages in the music and life of the famous Romanian singer Maria Tanase (1913 – 1963). It was followed by a Contemporary Network Tour presenting this material in a collaboration with the video artist Klaus Obermaier. Other releases are “The Island”, a collaboration with the unique Romanian singer songwriter Ada Milea (Blue Kapibara, 2010) and “This Is The Balanescu Quartet”, a collection of music garnered from the Quartet’s albums (MUTE Records 2011).