Magazine article Gramophone

Schumann: Three String Quartets

Magazine article Gramophone

Schumann: Three String Quartets

Article excerpt

Schumann

Three String Quartets, Op 41

Engegard Quartet

BIS (F) [SACD] BIS2361 (75' * DDD/DSD)

The Norwegian Engegard Quartet have only recently started programming single-composer discs (they released Mozart's 'Prussian' Quartets last year LAWO Classics). The Schumanns are a fascinating and dangerous proposition for any quartet. In September I much enjoyed the First Quartet in a mixed disc from the Schumann Quartet. The Engegard are relatively laid-back in the Andante espressivo introduction and even in the Allegro they give the music plenty of space to breathe. The Elias play up the contrasts more, and their introduction is particularly intense, with the sparest of vibrato. In the Scherzo a particular highlight in the Schumann Quartet's account--the Engegard sound a touch deliberate in their speed and phrasing, which makes the music unduly earthbound. The slow movement is more effective, however, and they choose an apt tempo for the finale, though they don't come close to the bounding energy of the Doric or the finesse of the Zehetmair.

In the Third it is the outer movements that come off best, the Engegard truly relishing the dancing finale. Though, if you turn to the recent Elias account, you're frankly in a different league in terms of finesse and responsiveness. The Engegard's second-movement Scherzo is a sunny affair, but how much more emotional complexity is revealed by the inward Zehetmair. In the Adagio molto the Engegard make much of the intensifying dissonances (from 4'40") and the way they draw to a quiet close is nicely judged. …

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