On this disc we present three masterpieces of the nineteenth-century chamber music repertoire: Schumann’s set of string quartets, Op. 41. The works are performed by the Doric String Quartet, exclusive Chandos artists and among the most impressive young quartets on the classical music scene today. They regularly perform at major festivals and venues throughout the UK as well as across continental Europe, Asia, and the US.
The three string quartets, Op. 41 make up Schumann’s only published contribution to the genre. They were completed during a period of intense creative activity in 1842. In February, Schumann noted in his diary that he
was having ‘continual quartet thoughts’. In April and May, he devoted himself to studying the quartets by Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart; in early June, the first two quartets were completed, and the third followed soon
after in July that same year.
Brimming with the canons with which Schumann was so taken, as well as his characteristic turn of melody, these works all display in full the spirit that one would expect from this most romantic of romantic composers.
Schumann arranged for the first, private, performance of the quartets to take place on 13 September 1842, as a present for his wife, Clara, on her twenty-third birthday. Clara, always supportive of her husband’s efforts, praised them as ‘lucid, finely worked, and always in quartet idiom’. The esteemed theorist and composer Moritz Hauptmann said: ‘His [Schumann’s] first, which delighted me immensely, made me marvel at his talent… it is cleverly conceived and held together, and a great deal of it is very beautiful.’
I. Introduction: Andante espressivo - Allegro
II. Scherzo: Presto - Intermezzo
I. Allegro vivace
II. Andante, quasi variazioni
Iii. Scherzo: Presto
IV. Allegro molto vivace
I. Andante espressivo - Allegro molto moderato
II. Assai agitato - Un poco adagio - Tempo risoluto