Magazine article Gramophone

Norwegian Quartet Pose Schubert-Grieg Connection

Magazine article Gramophone

Norwegian Quartet Pose Schubert-Grieg Connection

Article excerpt

Grieg * Schubert

'The Schubert Connection'

Grieg String Quartet, Op 27 Schubert String

Quartet No 14, 'Death and the Maiden', D810

Oslo Quartet

2L (F) (2) ((SACD) + (BLU)) 2L093SABD (70' * DDD/DSD * DTS-HD MA 24-bit 192kHz 5.1 & LPCM stereo)

In a booklet-note for this elegant release, Oystein Sonstad, the Quartet's cellist, argues for Schubert's D810 being the inspiration behind Grieg's Op 27 (a work itself normally cited as a significant influence on Debussy s Quartet). The common ground he lists includes the state of mental and professional health of both composers at the time of writing (poor to the point of obsession with death), drawing thematic and musical material from an own existing song and making use of leitmotif-like structures to give unity to the quartets. There s no proof yet that Grieg even knew Schubert's work but Sonstad's arguments are credible--and the Quartet's own website promises more on the subject soon. It's atypical venture from an ensemble that, at the time of writing, is touring part of Norway with three singers in their own version of Puccini's Tosca.

Caught in what we can now begin to term characteristically probing Lindberg Lyd sound (I heard mostly the 5.1 DTS-HD Master) are fine, spiky versions of each quartet. The instrumental layout differs for each one, violins in the middle of the group for the Schubert. Obviously the recordings were made with awareness of the theory behind the project. There's much dark, moody colouring: death is indeed all around, an interpretation which not only naturally fits the Schubert but gives the Grieg, especially its tarantella-like finale, an equally relevant kick towards the modern and psychological. …

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