The Salomon String Quartet is a period-instrument ensemble specializing in repertory from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Three of the instruments used by the players (the two violins and viola) are modern copies of late-eighteenth century stringed instruments, and the cello is an authentic model dating to 1791, manufactured by Englishman William Forster. The group adheres to historic performance practices and is considered one of the finest period-instrument string quartets from England. Listeners note that their instruments are prone to go out of tune more easily in concert, since they are not strengthened in the manner of modern string instruments. The Salomon String Quartet has made numerous recordings over the years, mostly for the British label Hyperion.
The ensemble was formed in 1982, mainly from first-chair players in prominent English orchestras. The members of the group in 1982 -- Simon Standage (first violin), Micaela Comberti (second violin), Trevor Jones (viola), and Jennifer Ward Clarke (cello) -- were the same in 2007, thus allowing the group to develop a consistent sound and style that critics and listeners over time could easily identify and admire.
The ensemble's founder and leader is Simon Standage, a virtuoso violinist in his own right, who served as leader in several important English orchestras at the time of the group's founding, including the English Concert (conducted by Trevor Pinnock) and the City of London Sinfonia. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the Salomon String Quartet concertized regularly in England and made frequent tours in Europe, Israel, the Far East, Australia, and the United States. The 1985 and 1991 U.S. tours were especially noteworthy for the highly praised Beethoven and Boccherini efforts in the former year, and the spirited Haydn and Mozart in the latter.
Among the Salomon's first recordings were The Six Haydn String Quartets by Mozart, taped in 1985-1986. Critical response was enthusiastic and the ensemble went on to make a string of highly successful recordings for Hyperion, including a series of Haydn quartet CDs in 1990s, as well as several additional albums of Mozart quartets and quintets. Although the Salomon players have largely focused on the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, they have championed little-known composers, as evidenced by their 2000 CD of the quartets of Czech Adalbert Gyrowetz. In the new century the ensemble remained active in the concert hall as well as in the recording studio.