Four ladies, one journey: the Klenke Quartet has maintained its original formation since its inception in 1991 at the Musikhochschule in Weimar. Annegret Klenke (1st violin), Beate Hartmann (2nd violin), Yvonne Uhlemann (viola), and Ruth Kaltenhäuser (cello) have gained worldwide recognition as one of the most significant German string quartets and are acknowledged as “one of the most distinguished European formations” (Gewandhaus magazine). The Klenke Quartet’s defining traits include profundity, melodiousness, and intensely expressive music-making, highlighted by an impactful program conceit and a sonorous intensity that reverberates even in the softest notes.
Numerous CD recordings document the extensive output of the Klenke Quartet and have received accolades including the Choc du Mois, the Midem Classical Award and multiple Supersonic Awards. In addition to their impressive live recording of Joseph Haydn’s instrumental Passion story “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross” (Berlin Classics, 2008), the ensemble has recorded the complete set of Tchaikovsky String Quartets (2010) and a Schubert Quartet (2015). They have also shown extensive dedication to the works of Mozart, with their complete recording of the ten famous Mozart string quartets (Hänssler) released from 2004 to 2010.
In 2018, Accentus Music released the full recording of Mozart’s string quintets featuring Harald Schoneweg (Cherubini Quartet), which was crowned “Recording of the week” on the BBC (magazine and radio). Martin Hoffmeister, the editor at MDR, commented: “(…) for me, the current recording serves as the definitive standard.”
In 2021, the Mozart horn and clarinet quintets were released, with the collaboration of Stephan Katte (natural horn) and Nicola Jürgensen (clarinet). All of the ensemble’s recordings (excluding Haydn in 2008) were produced jointly with SWR Baden-Baden.
The ensemble finds inspiration in collaborating with its colleagues. The Klenke Quartet has played alongside Martin Stadtfeld, Matthias Kirschnereit, and the Auryn and Vogler Quartets. The ensemble also presents refined and evocative reading concerts with actor Axel Milberg.
The four musicians view their exceptional “Auftakt” concert series in Weimar as a tribute to their original location (the ensemble was founded at the Weimar Academy of Music in 1991). In 2020/21, the concert series “Experiencing Beethoven” (supported by musicology, German studies, music education, and drama) received funding from the State Ministry for Culture and Media of the German government.
Recent years have seen the quartet traveled to Iran, Japan, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and the Netherlands, as well as perform in several German chamber music festivals. A scheduled tour of Israel in autumn 2020, supported by the Goethe Institute, transformed into a thrilling digital collaboration with Israeli pianist Ishay Shaer, resulting in the realization of their joint rendition of Beethoven’s Rondo for Piano and Orchestra WoO 6. The Klenke Quartet is also slated to embark on a concert tour of Algeria in 2023.
The ensemble has always been dedicated to contemporary music and is sponsored by the Ursula Mamlok Foundation. The Klenke Quartet will showcase a specially commissioned piece by composer Helmut Schmidinger entitled “Beethoven Reflections” in 2021, and in 2023, they will be presenting the German premiere of a string quartet by Detlef Glanert.
The quartet is particularly focused on fostering a love for chamber music in young children and families through programs designed especially for them. The Klenke Quartet has delivered children’s programmes at prestigious venues including the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Cologne Philharmonie, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Hamburg Laeiszhalle, and Vienna concert hall.