Gramophone Awards 2003

Record of the Year

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Schumann - String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3

Schumann - String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3


String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1

String Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 41 No. 3

“The vividness of the music owes much to these electrifying performances. Amazingly impressive” The Times

“The Zehetmair Quartet's coupling focuses the music's alternating wildness and fragility with altogether unique perception. Theirs is an agitated, combustible and loving view of Schumann, a credible trip into his troubled world that reflects older playing styles not by exaggerating or abandoning vibrato but by constantly varying tone, tempo, bow pressure and modes of attack. Aspects of this trend are usefully exemplified by their handling of the pensive second section of the Third Quartet's third movement, and by the way they negotiate the sudden, bloodless moderato passage that forms the coda of the First Quartet's finale. In the less consistent but more challenging First Quartet, minute variations in pulse and emphasis are consistently engaging, ie they enjoy maximum freedom within the law of the page. Contrapuntal passages that other quartets present as dry or self-conscious – at 2'36" into the first movement of No 1, for example, where the viola takes the initial lead – assume newfound meaning.
These aren't comfortable performances. They pass on cosmetic appeal and would rather grate and rail than pander to surface 'gloss'. So be warned. But they're profoundly beautiful in their truthful appropriation of music that can be both poignant and aggressive. Delicate, too, in places (Mendelssohn with added fibre); in fact more comprehensive as musical statements than most of us had previously suspected. That realisation is due almost entirely to the persuasive powers of these supremely accomplished, and realistically recorded, performances.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2003

Record of the Year

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - June 2003

40 Years of the Gramophone Awards

ECM New Series - 4721692


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