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Cat. No. CHAN 10405 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10405 - Janacek/ Szymanowski: String Quartets
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Available From: 01 September 2007
This recording follows the Schoenberg Quartet’s comprehensive survey of the works for strings by Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and Zemlinsky issued on nine Chandos CDs to great critical acclaim between 2001 and 2002.

Both the Janácek and the Szymanowski are powerful, quite draining works but totally engaging to listen to, and wonderfully performed by the Schoenberg Qu artet. The musicians comment that “we love and care about these four works very much and believe they have something in common, in spirit.”

Janácek’s quartets date from his later years and in fact the second quartet was his last completed work. They are difficult works to play with strange figurations and passionate outpouring but players enjoy the challenge this presents. The ‘Kreutzer Quartet’ takes its inspiration from Tolstoy’s cynical and incisive 1889 novella on the same name. The second quartet is entitled ‘Intimate Letters’ and Janácek commented that the quartet was written as a direct emotional response to experiences in his life.

Here the Janácek quartets are coupled by the rarer two string quartets of Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski. These works make up the sum total of Szymanowski’s contribution to the chamber music repertoire. Although they were written ten years apart both are imbued with the sensuality which was such a characteristic of his music. The second quartet employs Tatra folk melodies which can also be found in the once act ballet Harnasie, the one-act ballet on which Szymanowski was also working on at the time

The Schoenberg Quartet was founded in 1976, celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2006. The musicians share a common interest in the composers of the Second Viennese School and have specialised in music of the first 20 years of the 20th Century. However they also perform music from Debussy to Brahms. They perform in most European countries as well as Canada and USA and appear on the Rhombus film My War Years about the life of Arnold Schoenberg. They will play their last season together n 2008-9 after 33 years together.

Comparisons are relevant only as far as acquiring separate discs of these quartets… The new disc, recorded with admirable clarity and featuring a thought-provoking note by Antony Beaumont, will none the less prove hard to surpass should a direct rival eventually emerge.
International Record Review

This is a brilliant idea for a CD. Composed within a time-frame of 11 years (1917-28), at a similar geographical distance from the main cosmopolitan centres of music, and with similar stylistic overlaps between late Romanticism and modernism, these two pairs of quartets make for genuinely illuminating comparison.

The Schoenberg Quartet’s reading of the Szymanowski quartets is near ideal. While always expressive, they manage to make superb sense of the composer’s contrapuntal writing and seem to relish the more challenging excursions into a surprisingly dissonant sound world in the second quartet.
BBC Music Magazine

The Dutch Schoenberg Quartet, best known for its Chandos cycle of Second Viennese School chamber music, plays all four works with a telling advocacy…
The Telegraph

The Schoenbergs play with thoughtful attention to detail and their fulsome sound keeps passions high.
Classic FM

The Schoenberg Quartet adds that element of emotional daring which makes all the difference in the world. Outstanding.


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