Schumann: String Quartets Nos. 1, 2 & 3 CD
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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
Top Customer Reviews
These are fast, fierce accounts which emphasise the driven, sombre quality of much of the music. Schumann is often given to insistent elaboration upon one melancholy theme and his musical ideas are rarely sunny or uplifting. The unity both of mood and musical method is reinforced by the unifying mediant key relationship common to these three quartets, moving from A minor to F major then to A major, This relationship by thirds reflects Schumann's conception of these three quartets as inter-related works to be appreciated holistically rather than in isolation. The emphasis, following Schumann's immersion in Beethoven's late quartets seems to me to be more upon craftsmanship than inspiration; I sometimes hear a certain formulaic doggedness in his manner of exposition. These are not works which have found a permanent or regular place in the concert repertoire; I think this is at least partly explained by their predominant darkness and a lack of variety, both in mood and Schumann's manipulation of certain key, repetitive themes.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I would like to remark that we are living a golden age respect the memorable chamber ensembles around the world. Think about in Lindsays, Talich, Takacs, Panocha, Belcea and this one, and you will understand there are motives for being so grateful with these human beings who contribute the chamber music genre has cemented its own space.
Don't miss these recordings.
These are fast, fierce accounts which emphasise the driven, sombre quality of much of the music. Schumann is often given to insistent elaboration upon one melancholy theme and his musical ideas are rarely sunny or uplifting. The unity both of mood and musical method is reinforced by the unifying mediant key relationship common to these three quartets, moving from A minor to F major then to A major, This relationship by thirds reflects Schumann's conception of these three quartets as inter-related works to be appreciated holistically rather than in isolation. The emphasis, following Schumann's immersion in Beethoven's late quartets seems to me to be more upon craftsmanship than inspiration; I sometimes hear a certain formulaic doggedness in his manner of exposition. These are not works which have found a permanent or regular place in the concert repertoire; I think this is at least partly explained by their predominant darkness and a lack of variety, both in mood and Schumann's manipulation of certain key, repetitive themes. Very often, he opens a movement by stating a haunting, falling motif such as we hear in the introduction to the A minor quartet or the emphatic 6/8 figure characterising the second movement Presto, and these ideas are reiterated almost obsessively. Moments of release, relief or serenity are fleeting; the Adagio opens with a lyrical melody that soon becomes more sorrowful and yearning than consolatory. Some find the Presto finale to be joyful and insouciant; to me it sounds increasingly agitated and uneasy. This pattern is repeated in the F major quartet and I cannot say that I find the second movement variations very interesting compared with what Schubert or Beethoven can do. A tiny little skipping Scherzo provides light relief and the concluding Allegro molto vivace puts the seal on this as the sunniest of the three quartets.
The third A major quartet is the longest and grandest and also reverts to sombre sadness. I do not find the quasi-variations in the second movement much more engaging than those in the second quartet, and while the Adagio molto provides welcome lyricism, it is as always laced with anxiety. Some find the finale optimistic and affirming; once again, I hear a more conflicted, perhaps even paradoxical, emotional complexity in its manic stutterings. When Schubert adopts this frenetic mode, such as in the Allegretto concluding the String Quintet D956, I hear a reassuring sense of the music smiling through tears; here, we are grinning in the dark.
The 24 bit sound is superb but so close and clear that we hear too much sniffing obbligato from the instrumentalists. I find the photograph on the cover featuring our quartet dressed like Mafiosi in a sylvan setting, complemented by similarly posed shots in the booklet and the back cover, to be distinctly sinister - but perhaps this is apt, given the tenor of so much of the music. The playing of the Doric String Quartet is exceptionally honed and precise; their intonation is excellent. They could, however, bring a little more warmth and tenderness to the Adagios as their tempi are brisk compared with competitive recordings.
While I find much to admire here, other reviewers writing have on the whole been more enthusiastic about this music than I, although I note that they make some of the points I am striving to convey regarding a certain dourness in these quartets. I do not pretend to be a Schumann specialist and was drawn to investigate this music because I enjoy many of his other works but I find myself as often disturbed and perplexed by its uneasiness as I am charmed by its lyricism.