The quartet comprises two married couples. Matthew Denton (violin) is married to Emma Denton (cello); and Michelle Fleming (violin) is married to Eoin Schmidt-Martin (viola): “And the pros generally outweigh the cons,” laughs Michelle. “We know of only two quartets like that internationally, and it is great in the way that we travel so much it is really nice to be able to travel together and share so many new experiences together. And also obviously it is great from the diary point of view, co-ordinating our diaries and getting together. But the flip side to all that is that it makes child care rather expensive!”
Both couples have got two children, aged six and three for Michelle, aged seven and nine for the other couple.
“But fortunately we have got very supportive families.”
The quartet was founded in 1997 by Matt and Emma and performed in Italy in the birthplace of the poet Giosuè Carducci: “Apparently the mayor stood up and said ‘You should take the name Carducci!’ They thought they had better. Matt clearly got caught up in the occasion. He proposed to Emma!”
Emma and Matt had met at the age of 12. Michelle and Eoin have also been playing together a long time.
“When you know each other so well, sometimes things just come naturally, but actually sometimes within the couples you can be harder on each other if you were not so close, but then within the couples I suppose we know what the other one can take! But really the main thing is just not to take the work home with you, but actually that is much easier when you have got children. With the children, you are far too busy to think of other things!”
The quartet is regarded as one of today’s most successful string quartets. Performing more than 90 concerts worldwide each year, they run their own recording label Carducci Classics and an annual festival in Gloucestershire. In 2014, they offered their first festival in Castagneto–Carducci in Tuscany, but for their big project for 2015 the Carducci has been presenting the complete cycle of Shostakovich quartets in Europe and North and South America. They did their first at the Cheltenham Festival and then next at Shakespeare’s Globe.
“We did all 15 cycles in one day. It is about seven hours of music, but we did it as four concerts during the day. It had not been done before by us or anybody else in the UK. The Globe were hugely supportive of it. The staff were amazing. They decided that they would do just one ticket for the entire day so people could dip in and dip out, but it was great. Everybody really invested in it. There was a great atmosphere in there anyway, but the audience were wonderful. There was a real sense that the audience were participating in it.”
The quartet will include Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 3 as part of their Chichester programme, alongside Haydn, Arvo Pärt and Beethoven. The recital will be in the Assembly Room, Chichester Council House. Tickets: 01243 781312.