"These performances are notable for the blending of piano and strings into impeccably balanced textures. It’s an approach that’s better suited to the subtle Piano Quartet, a masterwork that owes much to classical models, than to the Piano Quintet. (…) These highly recommendable performances (…) join many other polished, modern accounts such as Takács/Hamelin and Mandelring/Le Guay that have been praised in these pages…" ~Fanfare
Schumann’s Piano Quintet, composed in the autumn of 1842, was one of the earliest examples of the combination of piano with a string quartet – Boccherini, Dussek and Hummel had each produced one, and Schubert used the double bass in his ‘Trout’ Quintet. It instantly became one of Schumann’s most popular works. It was composed at a time of almost feverish industry – he composed his three string quartets Op.41, the Piano Quartet and a set of Fantasy Pieces for piano trio, all in 1842. The piano quintet is a captivating, almost spontaneous work, and is a brilliant example of Schumann’s inspiration from start to finish.
The eighteenth century is probably the most extraordinary period of transformation Europe has known since antiquity. Political upheavals kept pace with the innumerable inventions and discoveries of the age; every sector of the arts and of intellectual and material life was turned upside down. Between the end of the reign of Louis XIV and the revolution of 1789, music in its turn underwent a radical mutation that struck at the very heart of a well-established musical language. In this domain too, we are all children of the Age of Enlightenment: our conception of music and the way we ‘consume’ it still follows in many respects the agenda set by the eighteenth century. And it is not entirely by chance that harmonia mundi has chosen to offer you in 2011 a survey of this musical revolution which, without claiming to be exhaustive, will enable you to grasp the principal outlines of musical creation between the twilight of the Baroque and the dawn of Romanticism.
To celebrate its 50th Anniversay, harmonia mundi presents 50 masterworks in the development of Western classical music, performed by undisputed masters in their field. This set features over 36 hours of music (all complete works, no excerpts) of music in audiophile-quality sound, elequently packaged in a deluxe boxed set and offered at a very low price. Whether you are an inquisitive novice or a discerning connoisseur, you will be thrilled to experience the sonic triumphs of the world's most innovative independent label.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
Franz Liszt, writing about Grieg's String Quartet No 1, declared: 'It is long time since I have encountered a new composition, especially a string quartet, which has intrigued me as greatly as this distinctive and admirable work by Grieg'. Grieg himself said that his quartet '… aims at breadth; to soar, and above all at a vigorous sound for the instruments for which it is written.' In 1891, Edvard Grieg started his second quartet, but sadly lacked inspiration and time to finish the last two movements. Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet has studied the original manuscripts of the first two movements (which have many clarifying instructions added by Julius Röntgen in preparation for their printing by C F Peters in 1908) and prepared the third and fourth movements especially for this recording. This is therefore a first recording of the completed String Quartet No 2.