Though the Quatuor Ysaÿe had rather quickly developed a solid reputation for its collective technical skills and incisive interpretations, it was not until the new century, nearly two decades after its formation, that this talented Paris-based string quartet achieved wide acclaim.
Most of its recordings were released after 2000, and its appearances across Europe, Asia, and the United States regularly take place in the most prestigious venues: London's Wigmore Hall, Paris' Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Vienna's Musikverein, and at festivals like the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. The group has received high praise not only for works by French composers -- the staples by Debussy, Ravel, Franck, Fauré, and Chausson -- but for its interpretations of repertory by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and by contemporary composers like André Boucourechliev, Monnet, Dusapin, and Krawczyk. The Quatuor Ysaÿe has made numerous recordings for a variety of labels, including Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Aeon, and for its own label, Ysaÿe Records.
Quatuor Ysaÿe was formed in Paris in 1984 by students at the Paris Conservatoire, all still members of the quartet. The group chose the name Ysaÿe after composer and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. The members of the group are: Guillaume Sutre (first violin), Luc-Marie Aguera (second violin), Miguel de Silva (viola), and Yovan Markovitch (cello).
After forming, the four players studied privately with LaSalle Quartet member Walter Levin and with several members of the Amadeus Quartet. In 1988 Quatuor Ysaÿe won the Grand Prix at the Evian International Competition, the first French quartet to do so. In the early '90s the ensemble's first recordings were issued and included a performance on Philips of Erwin Schulhoff's String Quartet No. 1, derived from the group's live concerts at the Lockenhaus Festival. Two discs each on Decca of quartets by Mozart (Nos. 14-19) and Mendelssohn (Nos. 3 & 4) followed in 1994, the year the ensemble became active in teaching. The members have regularly given instruction in string playing at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris.
In 2001 the Quatuor Ysaÿe was awarded the Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros for its recording on Aeon of quartet works by Boucourechliev. In 2003 it established the aforementioned Ysaÿe Records. Among the group's later recordings on this enterprising label are a 2007 internationally acclaimed CD of Franck works: the Quartet, Piano Quintet and Sonata for piano and violin, with pianist Pascal Rogé. Late in 2012, the ensemble announced that it would cease performing in January, 2014, using its last months to concentrate on performances of Beethoven.