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- Death preyed heavily on the minds of both Schubert and Sibelius when they composed the two string quartets on this new CD from the Ehnes Quartet. Sibelius had undergone several operations to remove a tumour in his throat. The bleak and highly personal 4th Symphony is the masterwork from this period, but the string quartet ‘Intimate Voices’ of 1908 should not be underestimated. Taut and highly concentrated, it has an almost Haydnesque construction, and the quartet’s first movement’s sheer perfection of form approaches that of the 3rd Symphony’s opening movement.
"I am the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world…whose health will never be right again" wrote Schubert to a friend in 1824. With his emotions veering from happy memories of earlier years to shuddering terror at the prospect of death, he composed two string quartets and the Octet over a two- month period. The D minor quartet makes ingenious use of his earlier song ‘Death and the Maiden’ from 1817 in the slow movement’s variations. ‘Give me your hand, you fair and gentle creature; I am a friend and do not come to punish’ sings Death soothingly.
The music captures Schubert’s fearful state of mind in a remarkable ‘freeze frame’ effect.
ONYX4121 Shostakovich String Quartets Nos.7&8, Khachaturian Violin Concerto/James Ehnes, Ehnes Quartet
"This rather unusual mix of concerto and chamber music only serves to increase the desirability of this release.” MusicWeb International, 3rd June 2014
ADVERTISED IN BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
- Ehnes Quartet
James Ehnes & Amy Schwarz Moretti [violins]
Richard Yongjae O’Neill [viola]
Robert deMaine [cello]
- 1 CD - 1h 14mn 3s
release date. 2016-11-18