Artea Quartet

Schubert: Quartet 15 - String Quartet in G major, D. 887

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Perhaps because its extraordinary length requires alertness, control, and stamina from the players, and because its sudden changes of character and content place almost equal demands on listeners, Franz Schubert's String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D887, has never achieved the popularity of its immediate predecessors, the String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, "Rosamunde," D804, or the String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, "Death and the Maiden," D810, which have acquired greatest-hits status. Yet Schubert's final string quartet has a special emotional power that comes from its unsettling juxtapositions of keys and moods, sustained use of tremolos (a novelty in early Romantic chamber music), obsessively worked motives, and expansive form which takes nearly an hour to unfold. For any performance be a success, it must unify these disparate elements, and the Artea Quartet delivers a coherent and clear-eyed reading that feels all of a piece, with every feature clearly rendered in a stirring interpretation that works from beginning to end. The performance is fairly close to the microphone, so there is some rosiny grit in the sound, though the acoustics of the Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex, are quite resonant and tend to smooth off any rough edges. Highly recommended as a compelling musical experience that does justice to Schubert's intentions.

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