Ehnes Quartet – Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 ‘Death and the Maiden’; Sibelius: String Quartet ‘Intimate Voices’ (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:14:02 minutes | 1,33 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Onyx Classics
Death preyed heavily on the minds of both Schubert and Sibelius when they were composing the two string quartets on this new recording from the Ehnes Quartet. Sibelius had undergone several operations to remove a tumour in his throat. The bleak and highly personal 4th Symphony is the masterwork from this period, but the string quartet ‘Intimate Voices’ of 1908 should not be underestimated. Taut and highly concentrated, it has an almost Haydnesque construction, and the quartet’s first movement’s sheer perfection of form approaches that of the 3rd Symphony’s opening movement.
“I am the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world…whose health will never be right again” wrote Schubert to a friend in 1824. With his emotions veering from happy memories of earlier years to shuddering terror at the prospect of death, he composed two string quartets and the Octet over a two- month period. The D minor quartet makes ingenious use of his earlier song ‘Death and the Maiden’ from 1817 in the slow movement’s variations. ‘Give me your hand, you fair and gentle creature; I am a friend and do not come to punish’ sings Death soothingly. The music captures Schubert’s fearful state of mind in a remarkable ‘freeze frame’ effect.
“From the opening chord, firm, precise, pliant, this quartet knows its collective mind when it comes to Schubert’s much loved “Death and the Maiden”…They avoid exaggerating the Viennese lilt, keeping all light, muscular and buoyant.” (The Observer)
01. String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ D. 810: I. Allegro
02. String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ D. 810: II. Andante con moto
03. String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ D. 810: III. Scherzo – Allegro molto
04. String Quartet No.14 in D Minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ D. 810: IV. Presto – Prestissimo
05. String Quartet in D Minor, ‘Intimate Voices’ Op. 56: I. Andante – Allegro molto moderato
06. String Quartet in D Minor, ‘Intimate Voices’ Op. 56: II. Vivace
07. String Quartet in D Minor, ‘Intimate Voices’ Op. 56: III. Adagio di molto
08. String Quartet in D Minor, ‘Intimate Voices’ Op. 56: IV. Allegretto (ma pesante)
09. String Quartet in D Minor, ‘Intimate Voices’ Op. 56: V. Allegro