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  • Schumann: String Quartets, Op. 41 / Eroica Quartet
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Schumann: String Quartets, Op. 41 / Eroica Quartet Import


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Audio CD, Import, February 13, 2001
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$137.47 $19.95

Editorial Reviews

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Though the members of the Eroica Quartet, formed in 1993, belong to various period-instrument groups in their native England, they have developed their own brand of performance practice: they play on gut strings, with sparing vibrato, but at normal pitch; the cellist uses an end-pin; the others use chin rests and shoulder pads. Moreover, instead of researching manuscripts and ur-texts, they consult early editions prepared by musicians active during the composers' lifetime, such as Mendelssohn's friend and adviser, the violinist Ferdinand David. Using his bowings and fingerings may give their performances "authenticity," but it is questionable whether the resulting innumerable slides and accents, which we have since learned how to avoid, are not ultimately to the detriment of the music. The Quartet is good; its taking over and interlacing of voices is excellent, its intonation almost perfect. The playing is warmly romantic and both lyrical and dramatic, but the accents are too aggressive, the liberties too planned. The Scherzos are sometimes a bit heavy, perhaps to avoid sounding Mendelssohnian. The popular third quartet is unusually inward at the expense of its rapturous ecstasy. The cellist struggles with his high register, the Finale is rough and quite unrhythmical, the problematic transitions between the sections lack poise and smoothness. The second, least familiar quartet comes off best: it is elegantly phrased and gracious, and the all-pervasive syncopation is handled very well. --Edith Eisler

1. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Introduzione: Andante espressivo
2. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Stringendo [Bars 30-33]
3. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Allegro
4. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Scherzo: Presto. Intermezzo
5. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Adagio
6. String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41/1: Presto
7. String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41/2: Allegro vivace
8. String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41/2: Andante quasi Variazioni
9. String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41/2: Scherzo, Presto - Trio: L'istesso tempo
10. String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 41/2: Allegro molto vivace
11. String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41/3: Andante espressivo - Allegro molto moderato
12. String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41/3: Assai aditato
13. String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41/3: Adagio molto
14. String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41/3: Finale, Allegro molto vivace - Quasi Trio

Product Details

  • Performer: Eroica Quartet
  • Composer: Robert Schumann
  • Audio CD (February 13, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000055ZYH
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,951 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "janus_kreisler_sachs" on June 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Schumann thought highly of his own three string quartets, and so did their dedicatee, Mendelssohn. Yet nowadays they are not performed or recorded very often (in fact, this is the first time all three quartets have been gathered together on a single CD). A great pity, since they are really wonderful pieces of music. Consider, for example, the first quartet's melancholy counterpoint in the first movement introduction, or its rhythmic scherzo and fiery finale. Consider the second quartet's soaring opening melody, or its lighthearted yet vivacious finale. Or consider the melancholy and harmonic richness that saturates the third quartet. Make no mistake, these works are masterpieces of early 19th century chamber music.
The performances captured on this CD are excellent. The Eroica Quartet obviously believes in these works -- there is fire and passion in their playing, yet also clarity (subtleties of counterpoint and part-writing are always kept in mind). I did think the tempo for the first movement of the second quartet just a tad bit slow at first, but I quickly got used to it. As far as I'm concerned, the only rival to this recording is the one done by the Hagen Quartet (DG), who couple the first quartet with the piano quintet on one CD, and the other two quartets on another. On the whole the Hagen Quartet play with slightly more energy and edginess than the Eroica. Alas, the Hagen cycle is out of print in the USA (though it's well worth looking for). But this shouldn't discourage anyone (especially Schumann lovers) from acquiring the present CD.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps the most compelling reason to buy this disk is that Harmonia Mundi has managed to get all three quartets onto a single CD, which makes for almost 80 minutes' worth of music. That would not be a bargain, of course, if the performances or recording were second rate, but that is not the case. In fact, I found certain movements, the rumbustious finales of the Second and Third Quartests and the intriguing variations movement of the Second, handled about as I'd like them to be. For example, the folkish episodes in the Third Quartet finale, with their atmostpheric drones on the lower strings, have never sounded more apt to me, and because the Eroica take all the repeats in the finale of the Second, they have created a truly sweeping movement that should dispell the notion (which I've heard before) that this finale is too anemic for the rest of the quartet.
Indeed, in this performance the Second Quartet emerges as the freshest, most Schumannesque creation of the three, as I've long suspected it to be. Love it or not (and I tend to love it), there is not another quartet movement like the fleet, improvisatory first movement. And the other movements sustain that impression of the string quartet reinvented as Romantic vehicle. For this alone the CD is a revelation.
But whereas reviewer Eisler found the Eroica's intonation flawless, I must say that certain sounds, especially the nasal quality of the lower strings in solo passages, will take a bit of getting used to. Where viola and cello should sound plaintive in the slow movement of the Second Quartet, they sound--petulant? I'm not quite sure, but the effect is less than magical.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By PARTHO ROY on September 20, 2002
Format: Audio CD
It's a shame that the great Romantic "madman," Robert Schumann, received little recognition for these three chamber music gems churned out in a manic frenzy known as Opus 41. Composed in the related keys of Am, F, and A, these three quartets share an intimate connection with one another unlike any other composer's sets. Composed when musicians were still trembling in the shadows of Beethoven's late quartets (and Schubert's, too, I'd say), these pieces show Schumann at his full emotional range in that intimate genre between the sonata and the symphony. To find all three works on one CD is rare treat indeed.
However, it is the Eroica Quartet's (not to be confused with the different--and much sexier--Eroica Trio) keen interpretation of these works (on period instruments, no less) that makes this CD such an important contribution to the classical recording canon. The delivery is soulful, authentic, and nuanced with such sensitivity that you'd swear the ensemble rehearsed under Schumann himself. The players shine through with singular brilliance.
The liner notes give not only the customary player profiles, composer mini-bio, and description of the works performed, but also discuss Schumann's original manuscripts along with a track-programming guide for listeners who want to hear the second quartet in its original format. No other recording of Schumann's quartets offers such quality and detail. If you feel that the string quartet died with Schubert and came back with Brahms, listening to this CD will convince you that Schumann's chamber compositions were more than just a weak bridge--they were true art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Bergman on March 22, 2014
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Schumann composed his three string quartets, along with his piano quartet and quintet, in 1842, his "chamber music" year. The Opus 41 string quartets were composed in a two-month period and are in related keys: A-minor (No.1), F-major (No. 2), and A-major (No. 3). They follow traditional sonata format with a few exceptions. In No. 2, the slow movement is a set of rather free variations. In No. 3, a scherzo is replaced by another set of variations of contrasting character. Schumann wrote that he studied the string quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and especially Beethoven in preparation for writing his own, but they are also influenced by Schubert (third movement of No. 3) and Mendelssohn, to whom the quartets were dedicated. These quartets have never been as well known as the piano quartet and quintet, but they are every bit as well-crafted and beautiful.

These performances by the Eroica Quartet are quite special. The Eroica members have studied performance practices of the early 19th Century and attempt to reproduce them here, using period instruments and practices, which include less use of vibrato and greater use of portamento (sliding between notes). Because of these differences from modern instruments and practices, some listeners may think these performances seem a bit strange, but overall these are very fine renderings of Schumann's music. The Eroica's playing has a bite to it in the livelier passages, sounding a bit rough at times, but that adds to the impact of the music, in my opinion. They are exquisitely sensitive in the more lyrical moments, such as the gorgeous slow movement of No. 3.

The Eroica recorded these quartets in 2000 for Harmonia Mundi. The sound quality is exceptionally realistic; one can imagine the quartet in the same room as the listener.
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