Schumann: The String Quartets Engegård Quartet
- Robert Schumann (1810-1856): String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 41 No. 1:
- 1I. Introduzione. Andante espressivo - Allegro08:43
- 2II. Scherzo. Presto - Intermezzo03:50
- 3III. Adagio05:18
- 4IV. Presto06:01
- String Quartet in F Major, Op. 41 No. 2:
- 5I. Allegro vivace04:45
- 6II. Andante, quasi variazioni - Molto più lento - Un poco più vivace - Tempo I - Coda. Un poco più lento07:20
- 7III. Scherzo. Presto - Trio. L'istesso tempo - Coda03:03
- 8IV. Allegro molto vivace07:03
- String Quartet in A Major, Op. 41 No. 3:
- 9I. Andante espressivo - Allegro molto moderato06:58
- 10II. Assai agitato - L'istesso tempo - Un poco adagio - Tempo risoluto06:00
- 11III. Adagio molto07:25
- 12IV. Finale. Allegro molto vivace06:31
Info for Schumann: The String Quartets
Robert Schumann rated the string quartet genre very highly, describing it as ‘noble’ and considering it to be one of the most revealing in terms of compositional craftsmanship. Possibly it was the high regard in which he held the genre that for so long stopped him from actually completing a quartet of his own – although he had first seriously considered writing one in 1828, it took almost 15 years before he was ready to fully commit to the idea. Once he had done so, there was no returning: during some hectic summer weeks in 1842, a year which is often called ‘Schumann's chamber music year’, he completed the three string quartets of his Op. 41, presenting them to his wife Clara on her 23rd birthday in September. In her diary she wrote ‘… they delighted me to the utmost. Everything in them is new, clear, expertly worked out and always idiomatic.’
The Op.41 quartets were to be the only ones from Schumann's pen, but this is not to suggest that he was dissatisfied with them: in 1847 he wrote to his publisher that he regarded the quartets ‘as my best work from earlier times’. They are here performed by the Norwegian Engegård Quartet, whose latest release on BIS, of quartets by Grieg and Sibelius, has received critical acclaim, for instance in Gramophone: ‘Those seeking the Grieg/Sibelius pairing in modern sound would be hard pressed to find better.’
Schumann gave the three quartets to Clara for her 23rd birthday on 13th September 1842. In the couple’s shared diary she noted: ‘The gift of his three quartets – which he arranged to be performed for me... that very evening... – brought me the greatest joy. About the quartets, all I can say is that they delighted me to the utmost. Everything in them is new, clear, expertly worked out and always idiomatic.’ The fact that Schumann wrote no more string quartets does not indicate that he was dissatisfied with them: in 1847 he wrote to his publisher Härtel that he still regarded the quartets ‘as my best work from earlier times’. And posterity has unanimously shared the view of the eminent Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick that the three Op. 41 quartets ‘are among the all-time jewels of chamber music’. (Horst A Scholtz)
Formed under the midnight sun in Lofoten in 2006, the Engegård Quartet has rapidly become one of Norway’s most sought after ensembles. Their bold, fresh interpretations of the classical repertoire combined with a deep attachment to their Scandinavian roots has attracted international acclaim, and inspired some innovative partnerships and programming. The quartet’s debut CD was praised as ‘breath-taking’ in The Strad, while their second release won Pizzicato magazine’s ‘Supersonic Award’. Their recent CD of works by Grieg, Sibelius and Olav Anton Thommessen was praised by Tully Potter in Music Web International as ‘what Grieg lovers have been waiting for’. Recent CD releases include Mozart’s ‘Prussian Quartets’ and the complete string quartets of Schumann.
The Engegård Quartet has a busy concert schedule throughout Scandinavia and further afield. They have performed in some of Europe’s finest venues including the Mozarteum in Salzburg and Prague’s Rudolfinum, and last year travelled to South America for concerts in Bogotá and Sao Paolo. Festival performances include the Delft Chamber Music Festival, SoNoRo Festival in Bucharest, and Heidelberg’s Streichquartettfest. Members of the quartet are also deeply involved in bringing superb chamber music to Norway – Arvid Engegård as founder of the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival, and Juliet Jopling as artistic director of the Oslo Quartet Series.
The Engegård Quartet has had the honour to work with (among others) András Schiff, Leif Ove Andsnes, Christian Ihle Hadland, and Emma Johnson. They also love to collaborate with colleagues from different musical traditions, including a folk/classical fusion with Hardanger fiddler Nils Økland, a collaboration with jazz-violinist Ola Kvernberg, and a programme of Ibsen and late Beethoven with actor Bjørn Sundquist. The Engegård Quartet’s own ‘1-2-3 mini-festival’ has proven immensely popular and is now a regular event each year. ‘Beethoven 1-2-3’ is planned for November 2018, and will provide a feast of chamber music, song, piano works and lectures.
The Engegård Quartet is supported by the Norwegian Arts Council.