Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert * Sibelius: Schubert String Quartet No 14

Magazine article Gramophone

Schubert * Sibelius: Schubert String Quartet No 14

Article excerpt

Schubert * Sibelius [G]

Schubert String Quartet No 14, 'Death and the Maiden', D810 Sibelius String Quartet, 'Voces intimae', Op 56 Ehnes Quartet Onyx (F) ONYX4163 (74' * DDD)

If there was one thing we learnt about the Ehnes Quartet from their debut recording in 2014--Shostakovich's Seventh and Eighth quartets alongside Khachaturian's Violin Concerto (7/14, with Ehnes as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Mark Wigglesworth)--it was that they're not the types to fall back on traditional programming choices. This disc now sees them fill a programme all by themselves for the first time, and their pairing of these two quartets is a stroke of programming genius.

On a purely superficial level the recording stands out against the sea of Death and the Maidens partnered with either more Schubert, or Beethoven. More than that though, the parallels of genesis and sensibility between the Schubert and the Sibelius run surprisingly deep: both were written by composers living under the shadow of illness and death, both are characterised by sustained emotional intensity, and neither work was bestowed its title by its composer. In fact the starkest contrast between the two quartets is in their relative familiarity, the Sibelius's comparative obscurity against the Schubert's superstar status. …

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