Alissa Firsova

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The quartet commissioned Alissa Firsova to write a 20-minute string quartet inspired by the works of Tennyson. The project culminated in a series of performances featuring Alissa’s new work, but also Alissa as a pianist as she will be joining the quartet to perform the Dvorak Piano Quintet.

The idea was to create a four-part string quartet, and rather than the more common way of setting the words vocally, the challenge would be to paint Tennyson’s poetry into music to resemble Mendelssohn’s concept of “Songs Without Words”, represented by the four voices of the string quartet.

The project was generously supported by the Ambache Charitable Trust, the RVW Trust and the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust.

A recording of the new work is now planned for this summer, on the label Vivat.


25 November 2016 (afternoon): interview and performance (3rd movement) on BBC Radio 3, In Tune

25 November 2016 (evening): 22 Mansfield Street, London

27 November 2016 : Kings Place, Hall One (official premiere)

4 December 2016 (morning): Oxford Coffee Concert Series, Holywell Music Room, Oxford

4 December 2016 (evening): Adderbury Church

23 March 2017: Imperial College, London

17 May 2017: Haslemere Festival


“I’d like to hear it again, which is praise enough.” ★★★★ The Observer

Full review HERE

Short film about the project (by Jessie Rodger):


Statement by Bozidar Vukotic, cellist in the Tippett Quartet:

« The Tippett Quartet have really enjoyed the fascinating experience of working with Alissa Firsova. It’s one thing to premier a new work, but to also perform with the composer in the same concert is quite special. It has allowed us an added insight into Alissa’s creative spirit and musical energy, and therefore a greater understanding of her piece. The premier of Alissa’s ‘Tennyson Fantasy’ was greeted really enthusiastically by the audience at Kings Place and we had a lovely review from Fiona Maddocks in the Guardian as well. We also had great feedback via Twitter and Facebook after we performed the Scherzo on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ and also for the short film we made about the project.

We’re really looking forward to recording the piece for Vivat in a few weeks time. Alissa will be there to help produce it and we’ll also be recording her Clarinet Quintet with Mark Van der Wiel for the same disc. The whole project has been a wonderful experience which has facilitated a lot of creative opportunities. On behalf of the Tippett Quartet I’d like to thank you for your support, without which none of this would have happened. »