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String Quartets 1


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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
First rate survey March 1 2001
By Paul Geffen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This new recording of the complete Schubert string quartets is only the fourth that I know of. (The other three are by the Endres Quartet on Vox LPs, the Melos Quartet Stuttgart on DG, and a fairly recent one by the Leipzig Quartet on MD+G.) Schubert's late quartets have, of course, been played and recorded by almost everyone. Why the disparity? Is it simply that the last five quartets are the works of a mature composer, while the first eleven were written by a teenager?
It is apparent that the early works, while excellent, don't stand up well in direct comparison with the later ones. They do not approach the emotional depth and sophistication that Schubert was to achieve in his third decade. Nevertheless, they are worth hearing for a number of reasons. The Auryn Quartet has given us two very good ones: the chance to explore stylistic parallels between the early and late works, and the Auryn's excellent playing.
This set is not arranged chronologically but is instead divided into 6 one-hour-long programs, each meant to show a different aspect of Schubert's development. For example, the three early quartets on the second disc are chosen to illustrate the different ways in which he used various dance rhythms.
The performances are first-rate. The present group's approach is relatively lightweight, sweet-toned, and gently romantic - an approach to this music that I prefer over the Melos' impassioned and sometimes overbearing intensity. The Auryn rely on clean articulation and their expressive accents are made with intonation rather than timbre. Where the Melos will overdrive their attack on a crucial phrase to the point where the tone becomes harsh, the Auryn will slide into notes from below to add highlights. This seems to hark back to an older style of string playing where the standard of intonation was more flexible and varied for expression. I think it's a nice way to make a point.
The Auryn's ensemble and blend is very good. There's no sense of individuals here - they play with one voice. The recording is clear and somewhat recessed, with very little resonance.
Overall, this is a very fine release and I look forward to hearing the second half of the cycle.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Glorious music at mid-range price Nov. 7 1999
By F. Behrens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There is little doubt that Schubert penned some of the world's most beautiful string quartets. Lest there be any argument on that score, grab the newly released CPO boxed set of <Franz Schubert: Complete String Quartets> (61203 96602) with the Auryn Quartet and at least play the second track of the first CD: the andante of the A minor, subtitled "Rosamunde." It is good having a mid-priced boxed set of 6 CDs available rather than collecting these works piecemeal as I have been doing. A music lover who contributed to the Amazon.com website compared this set favorably with several others; and while I have not heard all of the sets referred to there, I must say what I hear on this set will not tempt me to stray elsewhere. I wondered why the players decided to mix early, middle, and late works in an order that at first seems justified only by the timing limitations of each side. I suppose I could go through the trouble simply of playing them in chronological order to follow Schubert's development. The excellent notes that accompany the discs, however, explain that the order of the pieces was "in order to illuminate different aspects of Schubert's development as a composer." So each of the six CDs is devoted to an aspect; and you can be the judge how well carried out are the producers' intentions. By the way, the composer's "Five Minuets with Six Trios" and "Five German Dances with Seven Trios and a Coda" are included to fill out CD 1. The running time totals 372:40 minutes, with each side running anywhere from 57:35 to 66:54 minutes.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
New Vistas on Schubert July 16 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This album and vol. 2 make a marvellous contribution to the discography of Schubert Quartets. As the Gramophone reviewer suggests, their performances of the early quartets are fresh and delightful, and there are many pleasures in store for the explorer. Both the performance and the recorded sound are far superior, for example, to the old Melos set. It is also interesting to have the early mixed in with the late on a single disc. The Auryn's handling of the favorite last quartets is strong and emotional, putting them poles apart from the currently popular Emerson. I put them in the same league as the Italiano (Philips), the recent Berg recordings (EMI), Julliard (SONY), and the Talich's Death and the Maiden (Calliope). The price is hard to beat, and the recorded sound is great.

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