Mandelring Quartet

Schubert: String Quartets, Vol. 3

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Schubert: String Quartets, Vol. 3 Review

by James Leonard

While entirely consistent with the previous two volumes in a series of recordings of Schubert's quartets, the Mandelring Quartet's third installment is entirely inconsistent with almost every previous recording of Schubert's quartets. In this 2006 coupling of the late G major Quartet with the early G minor Quartet, the Mandelring displays the same qualities that distinguished its previous recordings: strength, drive, and overwhelming intensity. The opening Allegro molto moderato of the G major Quartet has more power in its attacks, more edge in its sonorities, and more vigor in its rhythms than even the Alban Berg's forceful account, while the following Andante un poco mosso has more raw excitement than any previous version. The Mandelring's robustly rhythmic performance of the G minor Quartet shows little of the work's obvious debts to the minor-keyed quartets of Haydn and Mozart, but instead demonstrates the work's less obvious influence on the minor-keyed quartets of Schumann and Brahms. This highly dramatic approach to Schubert may not please listeners used to more traditional accounts that stress the composer's essential lyricism, but listeners looking for a more dynamic slant on the composer may be well served by the Mandelring's performances, particularly in Audite's clean, deep sound.

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