On this disc we present three masterpieces of the nineteenth-century chamber music repertoire: Schumanns set of string quartets, Op. 41. The works are performed by the Doric String Quartet, exclusive Chandos artists and among the most impressive young quartets on the classical music scene today. They regularly perform at major festivals and venues throughout the UK as well as across continental Europe, Asia, and the US. The three string quartets, Op. 41 make up Schumanns only published contribution to the genre. They were completed during a period of intense creative activity in 1842. In February, Schumann noted in his diary that he was having continual quartet thoughts. In April and May, he devoted himself to studying the quartets by Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart; in early June, the first two quartets were completed, and the third followed soon after in July that same year. Brimming with the canons with which Schumann was so taken, as well as his characteristic turn of melody, these works all display in full the spirit that one would expect from this most romantic of romantic composers. Schumann arranged for the first, private, performance of the quartets to take place on 13 September 1842, as a present for his wife, Clara, on her twenty-third birthday. Clara, always supportive of her husbands efforts, praised them as lucid, finely worked, and always in quartet idiom. The esteemed theorist and composer Moritz Hauptmann said: His [Schumanns] first, which delighted me immensely, made me marvel at his talent it is cleverly conceived and held together, and a great deal of it is very beautiful.
This outstanding ensemble, still young, having formed while students in 1998, has already made a mark with Korngold and Walton recordings on Chandos. With this disc they move into core repertoire: Schumann's three Op 41 (1842) quartets were written in a fury of creativity after prolonged study of Haydn, Mozart and, especially, the late quartets of Beethoven. His influence is heard repeatedly, in the long, serene melody of the No 1 adagio and the dense argument of the opening movement of No 2. But the ardent lyricism is Schumann's alone. He wrote other chamber works but no more quartets. The Dorics play with warmth, finesse and exciting attack. --The Observer,02/10/11
Finely interpreted. --Sunday Times,09/10/11
Here s a disc that merits an especially big welcome(This CD) brings together all three of these wonderful but so often misunderstood quartets. The playing has all the fragile pathos, volatility, exuberance, and quirky humour one hopes to find in this music, along with an exceptionally strong feeling for Schumann's sometime literally off-beat rhythmic thinking. The Doric Quartet also have a compelling sense of how Schumann's moods can turn on a musical sixpence; childlike joy one moment, heartbreak the next. The recordings are vintage Chandos in their fine but glossy tone, with a lovely close perspective on the ensemble; intimate without being intimidating> Performance ***** Recording ***** BBC MUSIC CHOICE *RECORDING OF THE MONTH* --BBC Music Magazine,Dec'11
A very personal take on the Schumann quartets from this highly gifted British ensemble, adding to its already impressive track record on the chamber music scene. **** --Classic fm Magazine,Dec'11
They play up Schumann's unique combination of whimsy and fervour...These are performances that make you fall in love with the music all over again. RECORDING OF THE MONTH --Gramophone,Dec'11
Honest accounts of Schumann's three string quartets. --IRR,Dec'11