Schubert Quintet Live!
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Schubert Quintet Live!
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The world-renowned Brentano String Quartet presents the Franz Schubert String Quintet with guest Michael Kannen. Recorded in concerts at Amherst College the energy of the live performance is evident in this stunning recording of Schubert's masterpiece.
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I thought of both documentaries while listening to this recording. The performance reminded me of "The Trout" which featured the composer's earlier quintet. Both the "Trout" and the string quintet receive live performances with the spontaneity that comes from being in the concert hall. But there are contrasts as well. The "Trout" was the work of a very young man performed by gifted young musicians who, in the documentary were having fun in the playing, as was the composer in the writing. The string quintet was the work of a composer of 31 on the verge of death. In spite of Schubert's youth, the Quintet is a deeply serious, tragic work of a composer in full maturity. The performance also reminded me of "The Greatest Love and the Greatest Sorrow" because the quintet epitomizes the accomplishment and the emotional moods of Schubert's last year. The music is excerpted in the documentary, as are many other Schubert late compositions.
This performance was recorded live during three concerts in September, 2014, at Amherst College. The performers are the Brentano String Quartet, an ensemble which has been playing together since 1992 and which has received international acclaim. The Quartet is particularly known for its performances of Beethoven's late string quartets. The ensemble consists of Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violins, Misha Amory, viola, and Nina Lee cello. Cellist Michael Kannen, a founding member who played with the group until 1998 joins in this recording to form the quintet. The Brentano Quartet and Kannen offer a beautifully poignant, intense performance of Schubert.
The quintet is deeply emotional music with a broad range of feeling in each of its four movements. Each movement has moments of despair and sadness while the work also, particularly in the last two movements, has themes of joy, defiance of death, and triumph. The two cellos add a depth to the score, particularly when they play together as in the sad, lyrical theme of the first movement. The music is beautifully lyrical with changes in dynamics. register, and, mood which are brought out fully in this performance. There are sections for the entire five instruments, solo passages, pizzicato passages accompanying strings and other changes of texture. There is deep sadness throughout but also hope. The beautifully sad theme of the second movement is probably the best-known most frequently excerpted portion of the quintet, and it receives a moving rendition here.
The quintet is a work which every lover of music should know. Some listeners may shy away from chamber music, but the quintet is emotive and accessible. It has created a love of music in many a new listener. There are many recordings of the work, and it is ultimately pointless to compare among many fine renditions. The performance by the Brentano Quartet and Kannen will move both those new to the music and those who love it. I was glad to hear this new recording and to think about the work in light of Nupen's films. The CD was recorded on Azica Records and distributed by Naxos. Naxos kindly made the recording available to me for review.
Total Time: 57:30