The young Finnish string quartet Meta4 are rapidly establishing themselves as rising stars of the international chamber music scene.
Formed in 2001, Meta4 studied with Hatto Beyerle and Johannes Meissl in the European Chamber Music Academy (ECMA). In 2004, they won First Prize at the International Shostakovich Quartet Competition in Moscow, and were also awarded a special prize for the best interpretation of a Shostakovich string quartet. Since then, the quartet have enjoyed continued success and, in April 2007, won First Prize at the International Joseph Haydn Chamber Music Competition in Vienna. The Finnish Minister of Culture presented Meta4 with the "Finland Prize" as an encouragement for promising Finnish artists. The quartet has now completed a highly sucessful two years on the BBC New Generation Artists scheme, and has enjoyed performances at the City of London Music Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, Manchester Mid-day Concerts Society as well as at the BBC PROMS.
Meta4's busy schedule includes performances in Vienna (Mozart Saal), Milano (Sala Verdi), London (Wigmore Hall), Dortmund (Konzerthaus), Stockholm (Konserthuset), Madrid (Auditorio Nacional), and New York (Carnegie Hall). The quartet has also appeared at Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus, Kuhmo Chamber Music - where they are now the resident quartet - and Helsinki Festivals. Meta4 are the Artistic Directors of the Oulunsalo Soi Music Festival. In 2010, they completed a European tour featuring celebrated performances at the Wigmore Hall, Sheffield (Music in the Round), Norwich, Belfast, Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
Their repertoire encompasses works from Haydn to the most avant-garde pieces, including works by Finnish composers, some of which are dedicated to them.
All members of the quartet are very fortunate to play the following instruments: a Stradivarius violin from the 1690s on loan from the Sibelius Academy, a Bellosio violin (1770) on loan from the Local Cooperative Bank of Sysma, a Guidantus viola (1737) on loan from the OKO and a rare Lorenzo Storioni cello, built in Cremona 1780. Meta4 has also received a grant from The Finnish Cultural Foundation.
"But the best concert - at least to my somewhat overstimulated mind - featured only string quartets ... Meta4 delivered a mesmerising version of Haydn's wonderful D major Op 20 Quartet". The Guardian, September 2009.
"In this wonderful performance the music's epic scale emerged with unforced strength and grandeur". Daily Telegraph, September 2007.
Wigmore Hall - Bartok and Schubert:
" ... you can almost hear their body language: straining towards each other, constantly renewing the energy of their repartee ... Meta4 maximised the frisson factor of this spiritual winter journey, setting up dry, spectral tremolandi like a chill wind. Antti Tikkanen's first violin glanced off each fragment of melody like high-latitude sun off ice. And, with no hint of slowing in that hesitant second theme, the players maintained a delicate and uneasy tension to the end." - Times Online, February 2010.
Proms Cadogan Hall:
"But the best concert - at least to my somewhat overstimulated mind - featured only string quartets ... Meta4 delivered a mesmerising version of Haydn's wonderful D major Op 20 Quartet." - The Guardian, September 2009.
"Their performance of Haydn's op.20/4 got things off to a cracking start. The players obviously loved every minute of this early work, and this was a very thoughtful and enjoyable account. They fully understood the humour of the piece and gave the first movement a cohesion many have missed, welding the slow repeated chordal idea with the more energetic sections, and making a whole of the structure. It was delightful. The slow movement with its various groupings of duo and trio was well placed and the rhythms of the zingarese minuet had a real kick to them. The finale was a race, but it never became hectic, and their handling of the "take it or leave it" ending was a real joy. Super stuff." - musicweb, September 2009.
Cheltenham Festival - Pittville Pump Room:
"The first of these was a new quintet comprising pianist Ingrid Fliter plus a young Finnish quartet calling themselves Meta4: in their hands, Schumann's Piano Quintet came over with unusual warmth and vividness"' - The Independent on Sunday, July 2009.
City of London Music Festival - St Vedast Alias Foster:
"This was one of COLF 2009's finest hours, actually nearer an hour and a quarter. One of the best string quartets before the public ... They are supersensitive, with impeccable intonation, achieved by careful, unusually prolonged tuning. Their energy is quite uncommon, and this was a perfectly planned programme." - Musical pointers, July 2009.
SIBELIUS' Voces Intimae - Wigmore Hall, 20 September 2007:
"Meta4 was outstanding. Its performance of Sibelius's only mature string quartet, written aged 43 and one of the greatest string quartets ever written, was breathtaking and authoritative - monumental. Throughout the first movement, there was absolute mastery in giving space to single sounds and isolated chords, with exactly the right and most telling timbre, sonority and volume on each occasion. Great, broken chunks of sound stood alone, in stark eternity. The spareness of the Dorian mode was alive and electric. And yet - so skilfully - Meta4 also made a living chain of these isolated blocks, giving flow to the music. With a dynamic stateliness they delineated the measured structure of the movement's progress towards the quiet, utter finality of those last sonorous chords. The savagery of the scherzo was fear-making. Meta4 gave the long Adagio a deeply-charged, heartfelt sonority, appropriate to Beethoven's thanks-giving in his Opus 132. The last two movements had hectic vigour and an increasingly harsh vitality, excitement uncannily recalling Walton and Shostakovich. The unnamed players comprising Meta4 played as one, giving the impression that every note, every bar, had been judiciously and sympathetically considered, with empathy, with rapport, with a burning feel for Sibelius's idiom." - Classical Source, October 2007.
"This was a well-focused reading of a sometimes gnomic work, in which fluid melody falls into fragments and halting utterances. Meta4 followed a confident course through these shifting musical currents, always sensitive to Sibelius's highly concentrated trains of thought. The playing throughout was noteworthy for its technical finesse and faultless ensemble (the intonation of the unison playing was impeccable). The strange, otherworldly central Adagio in particular was magical, a blend of cold clarity and fervour." - The Strad, December 2007.
"We heard that voice loud and clear in the same concert, when the young Finnish quartet Meta4 played Sibelius's string quartet Voces Intimae. Despite the title, the piece strives to be a full-scale symphony, and in this wonderful performance the music's epic scale emerged with unforced strength and grandeur." - The Daily Telegraph, September 2007.
"The second half was given over to Beethoven's Opus 131 String Quartet in which this exceptionally gifted ensemble came into their own. This was a performance of real quality, a reading of depth and intensity in which the music was able to speak directly to us without eccentricities. This Quartet certainly deserves an international career, which I am sure they are capable of fulfilling. Let us see them again in London soon." - Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion, November - December 2006.