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Schubert String Quartets: No.13 "Rosamunde", No.14 "Death and the Maiden", No.15 G Major Import

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, June 19, 2012
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  • Schubert String Quartets: No.13 "Rosamunde", No.14 "Death and the Maiden", No.15 G Major
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Editorial Reviews

After having been awarded with Germany s prestigious Klassik ECHO award and France s Grand Prix de I Academie Charles Cros in 2011 for their Virgin Classics Beethoven cycle, the members of Artemis Quartet now release an all-Schubert CD. It presents the composer s final three string quartets: No. 13 in A minor, Rosamude; No. 14 in D minor, Death and the Maiden and No. 15 in G major. This new Schubert album joints the Artemis Quartet s 2008 release of the composer s String Quintet (for which cellist Truls Mork complemented the ensemble) and Quartettsatz in C minor.
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Digital Booklet: Schubert String Quartets Rosamunde Death and the Maiden Quartet in G major
Digital Booklet: Schubert String Quartets Rosamunde Death and the Maiden Quartet in G major
Album Only

Product Details

  • Composer: Schubert
  • Audio CD (June 19, 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Erato Disques
  • ASIN: B007QZ0LR4
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,368 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Barker on August 24, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have to agree with Santa Fe Listener that these performances are nothing like those of the Alban Berg Quartett or the Busch Quartet. Thank goodness. Those are great readings in their own right and deserve the praise they have received from critics and fans, but this is 2012. Interpretations are meant to change over time, and I think it is to the enduring credit of the Artemis Quartett, who studied extensively with members of the ABQ, that they sound very little like their mentors while still offering fresh and insightful readings that frankly put their predecessors to shame when it comes to ensemble.

Anyone who has surveyed Santa Fe Listener's reviews know he is less fond of newer interpretations when it comes to romantic staples. No Gardiner, no Hagen quartet, nothing too crisp or clean, not a fan of less vibrato. That's fine, to each his own. I say this not to openly disagree or to criticize, but to at least offer a filter for those who may be turned off by his three star review. I'm actually surprised he gave them that many stars. If I were a hardcore fan of the Busch quartet I probably wouldn't care for the Artemis Quartett either because their style and interpretation are totally different. For some, this may not sound like Schubert. Maybe they will find it has "lack of depth," or that it is "subdued and restrained." I feel none of those things. For my taste I am completely engaged and invigorated by their approach that sounds anything but subdued, while still avoiding the pitfalls of most quartets that drag us downward into the excesses of 20th century romanticism.

If you have heard the Artemis Quartett in recent years then you'll know what to expect. For fans it is self-recommending. If you don't like the Artemis Quartett, then don't buy this set.
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Format: Audio CD
Not many quartets are given recording dates anymore, and the number that have major-label contracts reaches the vanishing point. EMI/Virgin has stood by the Artemis Quartet, however, through a complete Beethoven cycle, and now the group has moved on to Schubert's last three quartets, where they extend some of the "updating" techniques that I have decidedly mixed feelings about. The string sections of orchestras tend to employ much more varied vibrato, and sometimes none, in the classical repertoire. I dislike the white, zingy sound this produces, and here it crops up in the striking unison chords that open the Death and the Maiden Quartet. The Artemis go on to lighten the textures and generally diminish the Romantic side of Schubert's music - I am not fond of that, either.

Their playing is often subdued and restrained, and yet strong eruptions of accented playing interrupt the calm surface to a disorienting effect. The pacing gives the impression of tiptoe and stomp. Most of the virtues I hear are negative: the Artemis isn't clinical, aggressive, or overwrought. They set an eerie atmosphere in the first movement - is this an attempt to unify it with the slow movement's quotation of an eerie lied?

When they arrive at the second movement, the Artemis give a hollow, soulless tinge to the famous Death and the Maiden melody; it's different and arresting. the Scherzo is clean and well delineated. The presto finale shows off their impeccable unanimity in very fast passagework. What brings up comparisons with the Alba Berg Qt. is just this tonal unity, and it's impressive. But nothing here gives a deep sense of enjoyment. It's the fashion to consider Schubert an agonized soul, in reaction to the traditional view that he was a sunny innocent, but surely both are one-sided.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having enjoyed the lively, somewhat streamlined and brilliantly-recorded set of the complete Beethoven quartets by the Atremis I was really looking forward to this set. However, it seems that the approach that works for Beethoven is inappropriate for Schubert. While it's not true that Beethoven's quartets "play themselves," Schubert's masterpieces need a hypersensitivity to the inner life of the music, which can otherwise seem rambling and repetitious. (In the first movement of the G major quartet, for example, Schuberts repeats the second theme, with the exposition repeat made as it is here, no fewer than eleven times. If the players aren't acutely sensitive to its subtle changes the effect can be deadly, as I'm afraid it is here.)
The first movement of the Death and the Maiden is reasonably done, though the Artemis tends throughout the set to substitute volume for passion, But the slow movement! It may be unsophisticated to speak in these terms, but isn't the theme sort of sad, the first variation sweet, the second soaringly lyrical, the third almost dithyrambic, and the fourth (please indulge me) a visit to the Garden of Eden. If you don't like those descriptions, supply your own. The only description I can think of for this performance is nondescript, as each variation passes by with little notice taken of anything. The scherzo, like those is all the quartets, is fast and empty. The opening movement of the next quartet, the A minor, is fast and misses the bittersweet nature of the movement and its scherzo misses its nostalgic lilt. The finale put me to sleep. The G major is somewhat better, but no competition for the recent recording by the Belcea Quartet.
So there it is.
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