Franz Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 in D minor „Death and the Maiden“ & String Quintet in C major

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Gramophone Award
Chamber Award (2014)

Audio samples

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor Death and the Maiden, Op. posth., D. 810

01. Allegro
02. Andante con motto
03. Scherzo. Allegro molto
04. Presto

Franz Schubert: String Quintet in C major, Op. posth., Op. 163, D. 956

01. Allegro, ma non troppo
02. Adagio
03. Scherzo. Presto - Trio. Andante sostenuto
04. Allegretto

Album information

SU4110-2, release date 20. 9. 2013

This is good. Very good. Acclaim and the Pavel Haas Quartet are familiar bedfellows - after all, they did win Gramophone's Record of the Year for their Dvořák two years ago. But this is their first recording that really steps into a crowded marketplace. They represent the best qualities of the Czech tradition - warmth, sonorousness, individuality, intensity; but what's striking here is their fearless risk-taking, their fervency and the absolute confidence with which they propel you through these two masterpieces.

GRAMOPHONE, OCTOBER 2013

It may have seemed that after receiving the prestigious Gramophone Recording of the Year award in 2011 for their album featuring Dvořák pieces there were no higher accolades the young Pavel Haas Quartet could achieve. Yet, fortunately, the ensemble cares more about music than garnering prizes. Schubert's two paramount mature works, rightly ranked among the most valuable chamber gems, represent their Ace of Hearts. The String Quartet in D minor has a sort of dark cipher encoded within. The title "Death and the Maiden" reflects the quotation from Schubert's eponymous song in the second movement. The theme of death is also underlined by other quotations and the choice of the key of D minor, which according to the period definition is characterised by "heavy-hearted womanliness, spleen and foreboding". Schubert completed his String Quintet in C major for an uncommon formation with two cellos a mere two months before his death. Its instrumentation occasionally gives an almost orchestral impression, with the cello playing a significant role as the bearer of melody. The Pavel Haas Quartet invited along a distinguished friend to the recording sessions, the exceptional German-Japanese cellist Danjulo Ishizaka, whose qualities were concisely described by Mstislav Rostropovich: "Phenomenal in his technical ability, perfect in his musical creative power".

This album is scalding to the touch. [the Haas's accounts] are irresistible not only for immaculate surfaces, but for effortless engagement of that grief-stricken quality beneath Schubert’s shows of gaiety and even his most serene assurances.

THE SUNDAY TIMES, SEPTEMBER 2013

Other albums

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Antonín Dvořák: Piano Quintet No. 2, Op. 81 & String Quintet Op. 97

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Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" & String Quartet No. 2 in D minor

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Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet in G major, Op. 106 & String Quartet in F major, Op. 96 "American"

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Sergei Prokofiev: String Quartets Nos 1 & 2, Sonata for Two Violins

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Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata" & Pavel Haas: String Quartets Nos 1 & 3

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Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters" & Pavel Haas: String Quartet No. 2 "From the Monkey Mountains"

Complete discography