A pillar of chamber music repertoire, Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, known as Death and the Maiden, was written in 1824 after Schubert suffered through a series of debilitating illnesses and realized that he was dying. It is the composer’s testament to death, and is named for the theme of the second movement which was taken from an 1817 publication of the same title. “With the wonderful Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra we are presently exploring Schubert’s quatuor ‘Death and the maiden.’ Of course we have to include Schubert’s earlier song with the same title on the poem of Matthias Claudius. This song belongs to the medieval tradition of the dance of death. Therefore we also play “Toden Tanz” (with poor me dancing), an ancientRead more death dance written up by the German organ player August Norminger… we also play one of Dowland’s Pavans from “Seven Teares.” Add to this “Moro lasso”… In between we also refresh our ears with other unsettling works by modern composers…” (Patricia Kopatchinskaja)
This being Patricia Kopatchinskaja, this is not your run-of-the-mill disc of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. Instead, it’s a live recording led by the violinist of a concert in which the movements of Schubert’s string quartet – in Kopatchinskaja’s own string-orchestra version – are interspersed with other music to revealing effect. The quartet gets an energetic, edgy performance - sometimes nervy, occasionally playful. The whole makes for thought-provoking, refreshing listening – and what impresses most, as ever, is the sheer aliveness of Kopatchinskaja’s music-making.
Peculiar? Yes, but also rewarding.July 2, 2017By James Carleton (Port Hueneme, CA)See All My Reviews"The idea of breaking Schubert's greatest string quartet into its four movements with pieces by other composers sprinkled in between them is, on the face of, beyond bizarre. This is one of my two favorite pieces by Schubert, the other being (of course) the Great C Major Symphony. The very idea of listening to only part of it and then moving on to something else would never have occurred to me, and when I first read about this project, I was more than taken aback. And yet, I was also strangely attracted to it, and decided that it would be worth gambling a bit of pocket money on it, especially as Alpha was on sale at the time. Well, this was a gamble that paid off, and aside from the Kafka-Fragmente piece (half-a-minute long, so NBD), this program works very well. I won't give up listening to the entire quartet as I have done for decades, but there will be times (such as right now; I'm listening to this CD as I type) when this is just what I want. It is adventuresome, but it is also rewarding."Report Abuse
Illuminating, moving musical projectOctober 28, 2016By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"This new disc from Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the leader of the conductor-less Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, is part of the new classical music recording trend of publishing projects built around a music-historical or conceptual theme. In the old days a record company would likely put out Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet on an LP coupled with the Trout Quintet, or another popular "named" quartet by another composer. The idea of wrapping a recording around a defining idea bigger than just "recital" or "concert" wasn't often on the radar in the LP era. This was perhaps because of format limitations: each 20-25 minute side happened to fit a chamber music work, or half of a romantic symphony, and the format pointed to a certain kind of conventional content. This is different. Kopatchinskaja takes the idea of "Death and the Maiden", which began as a poem by Matthias Claudius, set as a song by Schubert in 1817, and makes it the basis of a fascinating 70 minutes of music. By the time Schubert wrote his String Quartet, which uses the song's great melody as the theme of its Andante second movement, he was facing death during a major health crisis in 1824. The various musical sources brought in for this project, from medieval chant to the avant garde, all speak to this consciousness of what is coming. Then each source, from widely varying musical beginnings, is adapted for a common platform, the string orchestra. The Schubert arrangements are by Kopatchinskaja herself. Pieces by Dowland, Kurtag, Gesualdo, Normiger and an anonymous Byzantine chant provide historical and emotional context for Schubert's masterwork. This is an illuminating, moving project."Report Abuse