Artemis Quartett / Truls Mørk

Schubert: String Quintet; Quartettsatz

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Listeners who think they know Schubert's popular Quartettsatz in C minor and String Quintet in C major should try this 2008 recording of those works by the Artemis Quartet. The driving Quartettsatz beginning the disc is justly famous for inaugurating Schubert's maturity as a chamber music composer, but the tender Andante following it here is a rarely recorded fragment that would have furnished the Quartettsatz with a slow movement had Schubert completed the movement. Performed with tremendous power by the Artemis Quartet, the combination of the two movements not only allows the composer's fans to hear music with which they are unlikely to be familiar, but also lets them hear the Quartettsatz in context of what might have been.

The closing work, the Quintet in C major for string quartet plus second cello, is played in its customary finished form. But while there is no new music here, the strength of the group's interpretation transforms the familiar into the unfamiliar. As in the Quartettsatz plus Andante, the Artemis Quartet's performance of the Quintet is first and foremost about power. The force of the attacks, intensity of the lines, weight of the sonorities, and propulsion of the rhythms gives the playing a nearly symphonic heft. But the performance is not just about power. With the addition of cellist Truls Mørk, the Artemis Quartet also goes deep into the Quintet's expressive world, exploring the nuances of the opening Allegro ma non troppo's modulation and the poignant pauses in the following Adagio with an insight that most performances cannot match.

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