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Franz Schubert

Kuijken Quartet

String Quintet D. 956 (Op. posth. 163)

  • Type SACD
  • Label Challenge Classics
  • UPC 0608917264722
  • Catalog number CC 72647
  • Release date 16 March 2015
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About the album

During his lifetime Schubert was primarily known for his exceptional production of lieder – indeed, much of his chamber music and several symphonies remained unknown during his life, and were only revealed to the public at large later, by others (including Schumann and Brahms), in the form of publications and performances. One such piece, nowadays praised on all sides, is the String quintet with two cellos, in C major, which is heard on this recording: it is a whim of fate that this exceptional work remained unknown for an entire generation after being written in 1828, just a few months before the composer’s death. First performed in 1850, it was only published three years later.

Schubert’s quintet (just as Boccherini’s quintets, written for two violins, one viola and two cellos) bears final and extensive witness to the deepest conditions of his soul, cast in a language of which he has a masterly command and which utilises the forms as they were handed down to him while transcending them at the same time. 9 The work has four movements, the classical form. The first movement (moderately fast tempo, Allegro ma non troppo) is monumental, with an unforgettably stirring and contrasting theme and development. The way Schubert conjures up the second theme in this movement has never been equalled… Listen and be surprised! It is followed by the slow movement in A-B-A form – this is one of the most “profound” adagios ever invented by the human mind. Schubert’s propensity or being unfathomable is here taken to extremes: we hear an apparently resigned long musing that suddenly turns into an extraordinarily dramatic, feverish, dark train of thought, after which the musing again takes the upper hand, now coloured by new digressions … Then the listener is treated to a fast and furious scherzo, which is countered by a significantly more serene trio (Andante sostenuto). And then the finale which, after the extreme and passionate lyricism of the preceding movements, seems to want to suggest a frenzy of excitement; we find ourselves in an atmosphere of exuberant ‘Viennese-Hungarian’ lightheartedness and cheer: dances, in sheer endless succession and variation! But this too is but a pretence, and not the whole of real life: sometimes our thoughts involuntarily drift away from these notes, to our inner selves, where in the shadows, we experience melancholy and Sehnsucht … Until we gradually come round again, and return to the intoxication of the merry-making.

Sigiswald Kuijken: This recording, by two generations of musicians from the Kuijken family (Veronica, Sigiswald, Sara and Wieland Kuijken), with fellow-musician Michel Boulanger as the first cello, was made with so-called ‘modern’ instruments.
Although our name is generally linked with ‘period performance practice’, listeners should not expect or seek a deliberate, specific ‘historic’ tendency in this recording: this was not what defined our collaboration for this production...
I would even venture to say that it was the immense strength and depth of Schubert’s music that moved and motivated us to use our musical experience and intuition to the full; what we shared was astonishment – and joy. As we went along we became increasingly aware that it can be a gift to have kindred genes; and that an instrument is simply an instrument, nothing more…

Sigiswald Kuijken interviewed in Meesterwerk


image On Saturday, November 14th 2009, Sigiswald Kuijken will be a guest in 'Meesterwerk' on Klara Radio in Vlaanderen, Belgium. Topic of the programme will be Mozart's Requiem. A new Requiem is available now and it is of the well-known writer Jeroen Brouwers together with drawings of Roger Raveel. In this 'new Rquiem' Brouwers formulates a contemporary answer to Mozarts Requiem. A new Requiem is also a production of I Solisti ...


Tim Riley

February 3rd 2016 23:34
Just wrote about this on my blog: artsjournal.com/riley

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