Composer: Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann
Performer: James Levine, Lynn Harrell
Orchestra: LaSalle Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: Deutsche Grammophon / Pentatone
Size: 3.26 GB
Schubert: String Quintet in C major; Schumann: Piano Quintet in E flat major
Franz Peter Schubert
String Quintet in C major, D 956 (Op. post. 163)
01. Allegro ma non troppo 15.46
02. Adagio 3.21
03. Scherzo (Presto) – Trio (Andante sostenuto) 12.25
04. Allegretto 9.37
Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44
05. Allegro brillante 8.07
06. In modo d’una marcia (Un poco largamente) 8.01
07. Scherzo (Molto vivace) 4.19
08. Allegro, ma non troppo 7.26
James Levine, piano (Schumann)
Lynn Harrell, violoncello (Schubert)
What a treat! Two of the most magnificent chamber music compositions ever written – the Schubert String Quintet in C major and the Schumann Piano Quintet in E major – combined on to one SACD.
It is not known when exactly Schubert wrote his string quintet. He mentions the composition in a letter to his publisher dated less than seven weeks prior to his untimely death. This is the only clue as to the work’s period of composition. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that it is one of the last works he ever composed. One may also assume he himself never heard it being performed: almost unimaginable, if one really thinks about it.
After a legal battle with his piano teacher Friedrich Wieck, father to his beloved Clara Wieck, Robert Schumann and Clara finally gained the right to marry on 12 September 1840. The first years of their marriage were the happiest of Schumann’s life, which translated to an outburst of musical creativity. While until then Schumann wrote almost exclusively for piano solo, he then started to widen his scope. Schumann wrote a large number of masterpieces within a period of just four to five years, varying from his famous song cycles (Liederkreis Op. 39, Frauenliebe und -leben and Dichterliebe) to his first symphony, a piano concerto and string quartets to the piano quintet which was written for his young bride. Unlike Schubert and his string quintet, Schumann must have heard his piano quintet often during his lifetime, as Clara, delighted with the masterpiece dedicated to her, performed it regularly to the public.
This release as part of PENTATONE’s REMASTERED CLASSICS series gives us the chance to hear these masterpieces as often as we would like, in high resolution sound quality and performed by the renowned James Levine, Lynn Harrell and the LaSalle Quartet.
Review on earlier DG CD release of this recording from Amazon.com:
‘Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.’
All Romantic jokes aside, though, the highlight here is *Schumann’s* Quintet.
James Levine does not POUND away; the LaSalle Quartet are not the Four Horsemen: this is chamber music–joyful, sunny chamber music–played as such.
(Quoting the same beer-soaked Frenchman:) ‘Music should be cheerful, profound–like an afternoon in October.’
It is not surprising, indeed, that a mind like Schumann’s begat some exceedingly JOYFUL music–for such is the swing of the pendulum.
[Some ‘Joyful Wisdom’.]
I like the Schubert, but still would not compare this performance to other ‘classic’ renditions, like the Borodin Quartet w/ Misha Milman.