Schubert: The Death And The Maiden & Janácek: Intimate Letters

EUR 22,00
CD
Schubert: The Death And The Maiden
& Janácek: Intimate Letters

Leos Janácek:
String Quartet No.2
"Intimate Letters"

& Franz Schubert:
String Quartet in D Minor
"The death and the Maiden",

performed by the Amati Quartet.

A concert recording from the German UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery

CD · DDD · c. 65 Minutes

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D

aa da-da-da dam... Smile, accuse me of being euphoric, but even after listening to so many concerts, this particular recording is one of the most moving moments that I have ever been privileged to witness at the Maulbronn Monastery. A breathless, tangible thrill from the first touch of the bow to the very last note. What really makes this recording dramatic is the way the composers complement each other perfectly. These compositions by Schubert and Janácek are some of the most beautiful in the entire quartet literature, and the ambience of the Maulbronn Monastery lends a rare prosaic expressiveness to this interpretation. The sheer class of the Amati String Quartet is shown in the way the recording captures not just the artistic perfection of their performance, but the atmosphere of the hall as well - indeed, the artists become totally carried away and create a work of art so moving that it literally - and audibly- takes the audience's breath away.

Josef-Stefan Kindler

D

er Tod und das Mädchen ("Death and the Maiden") by Franz Schubert gives us dramatic, passionate elation paired with an alarmingly serene wisdom. It was composed during Schubert's late phase (1826-28), which also includes such works as the song-cycle Winterreise ("A Winter's Journey"). Schubert's dance of death, based on the poem by Matthius Claudius poem, inspires few clear moments of comfort and confidence, and then only in a major key variation and in the Trio. There is nothing programmatic about it, even though the listener is granted considerable insight into Schubert's frame of mind in his later years.

I

ntimate Letters by Leos Janácek, the Moravian composer, is one of the most unconventional pieces of chamber music written in the early 20th century. It is consistently free of centuries-old composition techniques and the classical forms of the string quartet. The work speaks to us in the language of our century and also has a personal slant to it: it is impulsively turbulent and, at the same time, lyrically transfigured. It was inspired by the composer's subjective experience of a love relationship and imparts a deep world of emotions that can never be expressed in words...

T

he Amati String Quartet came into being in 1981 and was shortly afterwards awarded the Evian 'Premier Grand Prix du Concours International' and the Art Prize of the City of Zürich, as well as first prize at the Karl Klingler Competition in Munich. Their CD recordings of the Schostakowitch Quartets 3 & 7 and Szymanovski's Op. 56 and Ravel received the German Record Critics' Award. The recording of the Haydn String Quartets, Op. 50 won them the French award 'Choc du monde de la musique'. In recent years, the Amati Quartet has chalked up one success after another, with performances at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London's Wigmore Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, the Kölner Philharmonie, Berlin's Konzerthaus and New York's Carnegie Hall.
"...one of the most amazing concerts I ever attended." (Sir Yehudi Menuhin)
"A Interpretation, unheard since the best times of the Juillard-Quartett." (FAZ)
"Since the early 50s (Juillard-Quartett) it was'nt possible to listen to such a recording of the Bartók-string-quartetts. This is the best recording of the Bartók-quartetts at all." (In Tune, Japan/USA)
Willi Zimmermann & Katarzyna Nawrotek ~ Violin
Nicolas Corti ~ Viola · Claudius Herrmann ~ Cello

Review

An extraordinary reading that rises to the moment
The severe sound environment of the Maulbronn Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the German state of Baden-Württemberg that dates to the twelfth century, has given rise to a series of recordings covering varying aspects of music from the Western concert tradition. That sound environment is put to intelligent use in this string quartet recital, which pairs well-worn pieces but gives them unusually intense interpretations that are heightened by the hard resonance of the sound. Sample the very beginning of the Schubert "String Quartet in D minor, D. 810" "Death and the Maiden", to get yourself into the disc; the opening chords might be described as slashing. Move on to the second-movement variation set built on the song that gives the quartet its name; where many quartets let a sort of debilitated gloom hang over much of the movement, everything here is a life-and-death struggle. The stronger of the two performances on the disc is that of Janácek's 1928 "String Quartet No. 2," subtitled "Intimate Letters," a hypersubjective work whose emotional content could have been drawn straight from one of Sigmund Freud's contemporaneous psychotherapy sessions. The work is as dissonant as almost any other of its period that does not completely reject tonality, but the dissonance is used in the service of untrammelled expression. The letters evoked are those between the composer and his married mistress. Yet the Amati Quartet's performance, ringing around the monastery walls, brings to mind, to use John le Carré's memorable simile, thoughts that are like birds stuck in a greenhouse. It's an extraordinary reading that rises to the moment offered by a specific performance space, and the disc as a whole, while not for those who like the emotional temperature of their classical music kept to medium, is decisively recommended to those wanting to try out the Maulbronn series.
James Manheim, All Music Guide

Review

I enjoyed it tremendously
It took me completely unawares when the dramatic opening bars of "Death and the Maiden" gripped me by the throat and threatened immediate life-extinction; I felt as if I were living the story myself, and though no maiden, I could certainly relate to her death-obsessed plight. This version is almost orchestral in feeling. While it is true that there is a huge amount of reverb in this space - well, it is a monastery - this only partially accounts for the destructive vehemence that the Amati gives this work. They see and saw their way as if it were the world's last concert, or the devil himself was in the audience. I enjoyed it tremendously...
Steven E. Ritter, FANFARE Magazine

Review

Another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label
The enterprising German label K&K has made a name for themselves by issuing critically acclaimed recordings of oratorios and other sacred works in the haunting location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Maulbronn Monastery. This CD features two string quartets by masters in the genre, Franz Schubert and Leoš Janácek played by the legendary Amati Quartet, one of the finest ensembles currently recording. Both works come across quite beautifully in the sumptuous acoustic and as expected, the Amati play with their exemplary brilliance especially in the "Intimate Letters" which is certainly very hard to bring off. This is another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label.
Gerald Fenech on Classical Net

An extraordinary reading that rises to the moment

ReviewThe severe sound environment of the Maulbronn Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the German state of Baden-Württemberg that dates to the twelfth century, has given rise to a series of recordings covering varying aspects of music from the Western concert tradition. That sound environment is put to intelligent use in this string quartet recital, which pairs well-worn pieces but gives them unusually intense interpretations that are heightened by the hard resonance of the sound. Sample the very beginning of the Schubert "String Quartet in D minor, D. 810" "Death and the Maiden", to get yourself into the disc; the opening chords might be described as slashing. Move on to the second-movement variation set built on the song that gives the quartet its name; where many quartets let a sort of debilitated gloom hang over much of the movement, everything here is a life-and-death struggle. The stronger of the two performances on the disc is that of Janácek's 1928 "String Quartet No. 2," subtitled "Intimate Letters," a hypersubjective work whose emotional content could have been drawn straight from one of Sigmund Freud's contemporaneous psychotherapy sessions. The work is as dissonant as almost any other of its period that does not completely reject tonality, but the dissonance is used in the service of untrammelled expression. The letters evoked are those between the composer and his married mistress. Yet the Amati Quartet's performance, ringing around the monastery walls, brings to mind, to use John le Carré's memorable simile, thoughts that are like birds stuck in a greenhouse. It's an extraordinary reading that rises to the moment offered by a specific performance space, and the disc as a whole, while not for those who like the emotional temperature of their classical music kept to medium, is decisively recommended to those wanting to try out the Maulbronn series.
James Manheim, All Music Guide

Highly expressiv and blazing

ReviewThe Amati Quartet plays Schubert and Janàcek in the Monastery Maulbronn
"This time the concert took place in the layical refectory, where chamber conerts are recorded. The CD has an excellend sound makes the tense atmosphere come alive again. The interpretation of the Amati quartett is highly intensified to a rather expressiv grade in every phase of the works. Even at the very beginning of the Schubert-quartett the sharply drawn uni-sono marks a sign of blazing performance of music, which hardly ever degrees intensity. The quartett sound of the Amatis is clear and linear, always made of insisting vibration. The radius of expression in the interpretation of both works and is overwhelming, transforming the componists' inner world into a direct musical event."
Dr. Karl Georg Berg, Die Rheinpfalz

I enjoyed it tremendously

ReviewIt took me completely unawares when the dramatic opening bars of "Death and the Maiden" gripped me by the throat and threatened immediate life-extinction; I felt as if I were living the story myself, and though no maiden, I could certainly relate to her death-obsessed plight. This version is almost orchestral in feeling. While it is true that there is a huge amount of reverb in this space - well, it is a monastery - this only partially accounts for the destructive vehemence that the Amati gives this work. They see and saw their way as if it were the world's last concert, or the devil himself was in the audience. I enjoyed it tremendously...
Steven E. Ritter, FANFARE Magazine

Another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label

ReviewThe enterprising German label K&K has made a name for themselves by issuing critically acclaimed recordings of oratorios and other sacred works in the haunting location of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Maulbronn Monastery.
This CD features two string quartets by masters in the genre, Franz Schubert and Leoš Janácek played by the legendary Amati Quartet, one of the finest ensembles currently recording. Both works come across quite beautifully in the sumptuous acoustic and as expected, the Amati play with their exemplary brilliance especially in the "Intimate Letters" which is certainly very hard to bring off.
This is another thumbs up for this extremely enterprising German label.
Gerald Fenech on Classical Net

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