In its early years, the Mandelring Quartet had become identified with the byways of the string quartet repertory, specifically the quartets of French composer and Schubert contemporary George Onslow, as well as those of twentieth century composer Berthold Goldschmidt. But the Mandelring players have never really been specialists: the group has always possessed a broad repertory that not only takes in the likes of Koechlin, Caplet, Milhaud, Pettersson, Penderecki, Piazzolla, and a host of lesser-knowns, but the standards by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and many others. And they have made over 20 recordings spread over several labels, including Audite, CPO, Naxos, Amadis, and Largo.
The Mandelring Quartet was formed in 1988 and is based in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Germany, the hometown of three of the group's four players. At the heart of the ensemble are the Schmidt siblings -- violinists Sebastian and Nanette and cellist Bernhard. Their father was a talented pianist, and the family often performed ensemble music while the children were growing up.
The Mandelring Quartet takes its name from the street on which the Schmidt family lived. The group's violist, Roland Glassl, joined the ensemble in 1999, replacing Nora Niggeling. Although the Mandelring Quartet began concertizing and recording in the late 1980s, its breakthrough came in 1991, when it won the international string quartet competitions in Munich and Evian.
The quartet also won the Reggio Emilia-based Paolo Borciani Competition in 1994. By then the Mandelring players were well known internationally: they had begun recording the Goldschmidt quartets in 1990 and did three of the Onslow in 1992; they were also busy managing a heavy concert schedule at major venues across the globe: Amsterdam, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and in South America and parts of Asia.
The Mandelring Quartet was also giving frequent broadcast concerts over German radio, the BBC, and other European broadcast networks. In 1997 the group was instrumental in the founding of the HAMBACHERMusikFEST, an important international chamber music festival held yearly in Hambach, Germany.
In the new century the Mandelring players have been especially active in the recording studio, their largest project being the 15 Shostakovich quartets, issued on the Audite label (2006-2011). Following that is a Mendelssohn cycle, with volume 1 released in 2012. The group's concert schedule has included tours of Germany, Switzerland, and Japan in repertory ranging from Haydn and Beethoven to Koechlin and Shostakovich.