Kuijken Quartet

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

Format: SACD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917264722
Catnr: CC 72647
Release date: 16 March 2015
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72647
Release date
16 March 2015

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…
Het prestigieuze Kuijken kwartet pakt een van de grootste meesterwerken uit de Romantische kamermuziek aan
Voor de opnames van dit album werd gebruik gemaakt van zogenaamde moderne instrumenten. De muziek is opgenomen door maar liefst twee generaties van de Kuijken familie (Veronica, Sigiswald, Sara en Wieland Kuijken) samen met Michel Boulanger op de eerste cello.

Hoewel de naam van het Kuijken kwartet verbonden is met historische uitvoeringen, moeten de luisteraars niet zoeken naar een specifieke historische tendens op dit album: dit was niet waar deze productie voor stond.

Sigiswalkd Kuijken zegt hij "het zelfs zou aandurven om te zeggen dat de immense kracht en diepte van Schuberts muziek ons raakte en motiveerde om onze muzikale ervaring en intuïtie ten volle te gebruiken. Wat we deelden was verbazing en vreugde. Naarmate we vorderden werden we ons ervan bewust dat het hebben van verwante genen een gave kan zijn; en dat een instrument eenvoudigweg niet meer is dan een instrument…"

Tijdens zijn leven stond Schubert vooral bekend om zijn liederen. Veel van zijn kamermuziek bleef onbekend, en werd pas later gepubliceerd of uitgevoerd. Een van deze werken is het Strijkkwintet met twee cello’s in C groot, dat op dit album wordt uitgevoerd. Het wordt tegenwoordig alom geprezen.

Schuberts kwintet is getuige van de staat van zijn ziel. Het is geschreven in een taal die de componist als de beste beheerste, een taal die de vormen die aan Schubert overgedragen waren zowel gebruikte als oversteeg.
Zu Lebzeiten war Schubert primär für seine außergewöhnlichen Liederkompositionen bekannt, ein Großteil seiner Kammermusik und symphonischen Werke waren dem zeitgenössischen Publikum unbekannt und wurden der breiten Öffentlichkeit erst später durch Publikationen und Konzerte anderer Künstler, einschließlich Schumann und Brahms, zugänglich gemacht. Eines dieser Werke, heutzutage hoch gelobt, ist das Streichquintett mit zwei Celli, das Sie auf dieser Aufnahme, gespielt von angesehenen Kuijken Quartett hören. Es zeugt von den tiefsten Seelenzuständen des Komponisten, gegossen in eine Sprache, die er meisterlich beherrscht.

Obwohl der Name der Kuijkens üblicherweise mit historischer Aufführungspraxis in Verbindung gebracht wird, wurde diese Aufnahme erstaunlicherweise auf modernen Instrumenten gemacht, und der Hörer soll darin keine beabsichtigte, historische Tendenz suchen, erklärt Sigiswald Kuijken. „Ich wage zu sagen, dass es die enorme Stärke und Tiefe von Schuberts Musik war, die uns bewegt und motiviert hat, unsere musikalische Erfahrung und Intuition voll zu nutzen; was wir teilten war Erstaunen – und Freude. Es wurde uns im Laufe der Aufnahme zunehmend bewusst, dass es ein Geschenk sein kann, verwandt zu sein, und dass ein Instrument letztlich nur ein Instrument ist, nichts weiter...“
Nel corso della sua vita Schubert era conosciuto principalmente per la sua eccezionale produzione di lieder – in effetti, molta della sua musica da camera e diverse sinfonie rimasero sconosciute durante la sua vita, e furono rese note al grande pubblico più tardi, da altru (compresi Schumann e Brahms), attraverso edizioni ed esecuzioni. Uno di questi brani, oggi adorato da tutti, è il Quintetto per archi con due violoncello, in Do maggiore, che si ascolta in questa registrazione: è un capirccio del destino che ques’opera straordinaria sia rimasta sconsosciuta per un’intera generazione dopo essere stata scritta nel 1882, solo qualche mese prima della morte del compositore. Eseguita per la prima volta nel 1850, venne pubblicata solo tre anni più tardi. Il quintetto di Schubert (scritto, come i quintetti di Boccherini, per due violini, una viola e due violoncelli) rappresenta l’ultima e ampia testimonianza delle più profonde condizioni della sua anima, resa in un linguaggio di cui aveveva una magistrale padronanza e che utilizza le forme che gli erano state tramandate, pur trascendendole al tempo stesso.
Sigiswald Kuijken: «Questa registrazione, realizzata da due generazioni di musicisti della famiglia Kuijken (Veronica, Sigiswald, Sara e Wieland Kuijken), con il collega Michel Boulanger come primo violoncello, è stata fatta con cosiddetti strumenti ‘moderni’. Benché il nostro nome sia generalmente collegato alla ‘prassi esecutiva d’epoca’, gli ascoltatori non devono aspettarsi o cercare in questa registrazione un approccio specificamente e premeditatamente ‘storico’: questo non è l’elemento che ha definito la nostra collaborazione per questa produzione… Oserei anche dire che è stata l’immensa forza e profondità della musica di Schubert che ci ha mossi e motivati a sfruttare appieno la nostra esperienza e intuizione musicale; ciò che abbiamo condiviso è stato lo stupore – e la gioia. E così facendo diventati sempre più consapevoli del fatto che, avere dei geni in comune, può essere un dono; e che uno strumento è semplicemente uno strumento, nulla più…».


Kuijken Quartet

First generation:
Wieland Kuijken (1938) obtained a Higher Certificate in cello at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels in 1959. Taught himself to play viola da gamba and 17th and 18th century performance practice. Performed avantgarde music until the late seventies. He often worked together with his two brothers Barthold and Sigiswald and harpsichordist Robert Kohnen. He is much sought after as a teacher and as a cellist known for his interpretation of Bach's solo suites. He also occasionally works as a conductor.
Sigiswald Kuijken (1944) studied violin at the Conservatories of Bruges and Brussels. Like his brother Wieland he came in touch with early music at a very young age and mastered the specific 17th and 18th century performing techniques and interpretation conventions. He had a decisive influence on the approach to violin music, as his newly introduced technique of playing baroque violin has been adopted by many musicians since the early 1970s. He also performed a lot of avantgarde music until the late 1970s and early music with his brothers Wieland and Barthold, Gustav Leonhardt, Robert Kohnen, Anner Bylsma, Frans Brüggen, René Jacobs and others. In 1972 he founded the baroque orchestra La Petite Bande which performed numerous concert tours throughout the world and made a large number of recordings. In 1986 he established the Two Generations Kuijken. Sigiswald Kuijken taught baroque violin at the Royal Conservatories in The Hague and Brussels. In February 2007, Sigiswald Kuijken has received an honorary doctorate of the Catholic University of Leuven.

Second generation:
Sara Kuijken (1968) studied viola at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, where she obtained a 1st prize in 1989 and in 1992 the Higher Certificate magna cum laude. At the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam she obtained a degree as a performing musician in 1995. Together with seven other musicians, she founded the Oxalys chamber music ensemble, in which she played viola and served as artistic director until 1998. This ensemble released two CDs, with impressionist and with contemporary Russian chamber music. Her father Sigiswald Kuijken gave her some baroque violin instruction in 1994. She is a regular participant in La Petite Bande. Since the academic year 2005-06 she has been assistant instructor of baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels.
Veronica Kuijken (1978) started to play piano at age six and violin at age eight. She went to the Brussels conservatory at the age of 16 in the piano class of Daniel Blumenthal. There she took her master's degree in piano cum laude in June 1999. After two years of violin lessons, and privately tutoring for seven years she continued her studies in London and obtained a master's degree in violin in September 1998 (via the Central Examining Committee of the Flemish Community). She has been studying at the Musikhochschule in Winterthur (Switzerland) since October 1999. In 1997 Veronica was selected as a violinist in the European Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, conducted by Iván Fischer, Semyon Bychkov and Pierre Boulez. Alongside her studies, Veronica Kuijken and her sister Marie (soprano and pianist) have performed since 1993 as the 'I Pulcini' duo. Veronica has regularly played with the Kammerorchester Basel since 2000, and holds a part-time position as piano accompanist with the Conservatory of Music in Lausanne and as harpsichord accompanist in the Geneva Conservatory.



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