Schubert: String Quartets Vol 4

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Composer: Franz Schubert
Artists: Diogenes Quartet, Stefan Kirpal (violin), Gundula Kirpal (violin), Alba González i Becerra (viola), Stephen Ristau (cello)

One of Schubert’s most famous string quartets today, it seems hard to believe that the Quartet in D minor D810 was never performed during the composer’s lifetime. Schubert was looking to build on the success of his ‘Rosamunde’ quartet, which had quickly found acclaim among his contemporaries. His friend Ignaz Schuppanzigh, however, dismissed his new composition out of hand. But since its rediscovery, the quartet has been performed countless times, gaining its nickname “Der Tod und das Mädchen” thanks to the theme that appears in the third movement from Schubert’s song of the same name (D531). Schubert symbolises the dark conversation between Death and the dying maiden with the variation form, each variation representing either the cold world of Death or the girl’s attempts to elude him. The listener is soon drawn into the girl’s futile efforts to resist her fate, as the music is whipped up into a wild tarantella only interrupted by the triumph of Death’s victory.

In contrast to this somewhat sinister work, the other quartet on this release dates from much earlier in Schubert’s life, and is heavily influenced by Classical forms, revealing the extent of the influence of Classical composers such as Mozart on the young composer’s early compositions. The disc is rounded off with the Minuet in D D86, possibly written as a minuet movement for a quartet or as part of a planned set of dances.

This is the fourth volume of the Diogenes Quartet’s acclaimed complete set of Schubert String Quartets. The ongoing project for Brilliant Classics has already been highly acclaimed, with Jerry Dubins of Fanfare writing of Volume 2 (BC94462): “Immaculate execution is complemented by genuine emotional engagement and real feeling for Schubert’s unique modes and moods of musical expression.” With two more volumes to come, this series is sure to attract Schubert aficionados and string quartet lovers alike.

This 4th instalment of the complete String Quartets by Schubert presents one of the most famous string quartets ever written: the Quartet in D minor “Der Tod und das Mädchen” (Death and the Maiden), one of Schubert’s grimmest and most powerful works, Beethovenian in structure and scope, Schubertian in passion and poetry.
The Schubert cycle by the German Quartet Diogenes Quartet is highly regarded, critics praise their superb unity of ensemble and style, their impeccable intonation and their fiery and passionate music making.
As complement to the D minor Quartet we hear the youthful D major quartet D74.
Excellent liner notes written by the producer Christian Starke.

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