Critical reviews (more reviews on the German page)

theguardian_Andrew Clements


"Embarking for the New World", Sept. 2008, Cuxhaven

Surely, a new musical experience for many listeners was presented by the Kairos Quartett accompanying the literary breaking-up [by the actress Martina Gedeck]. The Cuxhaven audiencesaw the four musicians in top form. They played with perfect precision and concentrated passion John Cage's Thirty Pieces and György Kurtágs "Quartetto per archi op.1". The latter is considered a quartet repertory classic of the period since 1950 but is rarely played due to its extreme technical difficulty.

The finest, most scintillating and intensive sounds suffused the Hanseatensaal achieving a tangible level of concentration, and of tension, amongst the audience. Whether in its usual quartet set-up onstage, or distributed in the four corners of the hall, the musicians took the audience with delicately chiselled sound textures, brilliantly spun albeit soft, sometimes tapped on the finger board or plucked. In spite of all the challenges the quartet was in full command and also brought out sensitive, deeply moving, or joyful details when overlapping with the fifth timbre, Martina Gedeck's voice.

At the close there was a lot of applause for these special kinds of text and sound experience.
Jens Potschka, 9/22/2008, Cuxhavener Nachrichten

Recital for John Cage, Sept. 2008, Halberstadt

Friday night the quartet gave a John Cage birthday recital which was fabulous in every aspect; it drew its suspense not lastly from the stylistical diverversity of the works performed: Aside John Cage's "Thirty Pieces" the high point came with the intricate timbres of ") place (" by the young Italian composer Giorgio Netti.
Ute Schalz (, September 2008

Aspekte Salzburg 8.3.2008 – Caught in finest sound cocoons

The members of the Kairos Quartet - two onstage, two in the back of the hall - saturate the darkness with another macrocosm of finely spun, scintillating sounds. To perform this work, the musicians need the audience‘s concentration like a sailor needs the wind, says the cellist Claudius von Wrochem before the light went out. On the other hand it was not difficult to let oneself be carried out into the night by these brilliantly spun cocoons which were at times extremely soft, merely tapped strings on the finger board. – A highlight of this year's "Aspekte Festival".
H. Klabacher und R. Kriechbaum (DrehPunktKultur, 9.3.2008)

Wien Modern 2007 featuring [...] Georg Friedrich Haas

One of the most impressive works turned out to be [his] third string quartet «In iij noct.», performed by the Kairos Quartett in total darkness; with only a few elements serving as means of communication for the musicians a unique athmosphere was created followed by an unexpected and entrancing quote from Gesualdo.
Daniel Ender, 12/08/2007, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

[...] this position is also taken by [Georg] Katzer‘s new string quartet which was „christened“ by the Kairos Quartet with immaculate technique and great intensity...
Olaf Wilhelmer (Märkische Allgemeine, 11/1/2005)

Time of Music Festival Viitasaari/Finnland Juli 2004:
Hiljaisuuden ja hälyn rajalla – On the border of Sílence and Noise

The [Finnish] premiere of this summer‘s featured composer, the Dane Bent Sørensen [...] was given by the German Kairos Quartet. To shape veiled, dark sounds that hover between noise and silence is a hallmark of Sørensen, and exactly this sound world was demonstrated in a masterful interpretation of Sørensens second string quartet (1986).
Mikko Voutilainen, Keskisuomalainen/Finnland, 10.7.04

Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music (Nov./Dec. 2002)

[...] There were two recitals later in the day, the first featuring the remarkable cellist Arne Deforce, the second the excellent Kairos String Quartet.In both events, pieces by Wolfgang Rihm and Richard Barrett were juxtaposed. Their styles are very different, but they complement each other. In Deforces recital the intensity of Rihm's Über die Linie, for Solo Cello, was paired with Barrett's Blattwerk, for Cello and Electronics, one of his more ambitious instrumental scores, but the influence of the Furt Duo could also be felt.

The Kairos Quartet demonstrated that the Arditti Quartet is no longer the indisputable exponent of new music for the medium. Richard Barretts recent 13 Self-Portraits lost nothing in comparison with Rihms well-established Eighth Quartet, but the most extraordinary item was Giorgio Netti's )place(, for String Quartet. Netti introduced a complete repertoire of new sonorities, which seemed to be suspended in space, compelling rapt attention throughout the half-hour duration. [...]
John Warnaby (Musical Opinion Magazine, Mag Highlights 1433 March/April, 2003 Festival Review: Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music)

Salzburg Festival: Austria Today

The refreshingly young Kairos Quartet from Berlin which exclusively specializes in contemporary music showed a highly professional accomplishment at the Great Hall of the Mozarteum tonight.
Stephan Hoellwerth (SVZ, 8/7/2002)

„Intoxicating“ The Kairos Quartett in Munich

Berlin’s Kairos Quartett, devoted to music of the 20th and 21st Century, has undergone an astonishing development in just a few years. It has grown to become one of the leading ensembles of contemporary music. The group has already left its mark in the field of microtonal music. At [...] the Gasteig one could only marvel at the self-assured, sensually refreshing treatment of scales beyond the 12-tone chromatic system.
Reinhard Schulz (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 4/16/2002)

Five Windows onto quartet music since 1950

Only the acoustic was a little dry. Other than that, everything was like the most daring of concert dreams: new music of the not-exactly-comfortable sort, played before a well-mixed audience - neither greyhair-ed nor elitist - taken to its furthest consequences. Performers who take the listener into dialog; both through their deeply involved playing, and through the follow-ing discussion that allowed for a wide range of aspects.
Isabel Herzfeld (Tagesspiegel Berlin, 2/6/2002)

The Kairos Quartet as a guest of the SWR-Vokalensemble

How to merge a bunch of fragments into a unified whole was demonstrated by the Kairos Quartet performing Kurtág‘s op.1. When other quartets deliver these split-up chords, lines in contramotion, dynamical im- and explosions like platitudes of contemporary playing techniques the Kairos Quartet created sound fields of the greatest energy density. Later, in the complex interlacing of metrical architectures in Bartók‘s Third String Quartet Kairos managed to send lightening flashes of melody between brutal rhythmical action and ostinato clusters.
Annette Eckerle (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 27.10. 2001)

14. Dresdner Tage der zeitgenössischen Musik/20 Years „Konzert des Deutschen Musikrats“:

Lucky can a composer call himself when the Kairos Quartet takes on one of his works. The young members of this group which was founded in 1996 play with a maturity which usually only comes after decades of professional practice.
Peter Zacher (Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, 10.10.2000)

A number of highly accomplished string quartets have set out for the most challenging areas of new music. One of them is the Kairos Quartett, founded in 1996, devoting itself here to Kurtág’s first string quartet – in which melodic islands recurrently surface between jaggedly nervous fragments – as well as to Berio’s no-less torn Sincronie. In between we hear from newcomer K. Müller and from J. Estrada. The program is delivered bursting with energy, yet dryly and refined. Absolutely first class!(top rating of 5 stars in the categories interpretation and sound)
Tilman Urbach (Fono Forum, May 2000)

„Unerhörte Musik“ at BKA, Berlin

Then the outstanding young Kairos Quartet applied the same exacting sensibility as in „Bruillards“ [by Th. Hummel, dedicated to the KQ] to the modern classics as well: Weberns opus 5, Kurtágs opus 1, and „aus der Ferne“; Bartók‘s Third String Quartet can rarely be heard evoking such fragility and spatial balance.
Eleonore Büning (FAZ, 10.12.1998)

The Arditti Quartet as well as the [Kairos Quartet] presented interesting string quartets. The musicians from Berlin don’t have to shrink from being compar-ed with their more prominent London colleagues.
Jörn Peter Hiekel (reviewing the “Internationale Ferienkurse” in Darmstadt on West German Radio, August 1996)