Friday, July 7, 2017

Hans Pfitzner - String Quartets in D minor & Op. 36 (Franz Schubert Quartet)


Composer: Hans Pfitzner
  1. String Quartet in D minor: I. Allegro, molto moderato
  2. String Quartet in D minor: II. Allegro ma non troppo
  3. String Quartet in D minor: III. Andante molto sostenuto
  4. String Quartet in D minor: IV. Allegro
  5. String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 36: I. Ziemlich ruhig
  6. String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 36: II. Sehr schnell
  7. String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 36: III. Langsam, ausdrucksvoll
  8. String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 36: IV. Ziemlich schnell

Franz Schubert Quartet
Florian Zwiauer, violin I
Helge Rosenkranz, violin II
Hartmut Pascher, viola
Vincent Stadlmair, cello

Date: 1997
Label: cpo



The D minor quartet is the work of a teenager. The first movement's debt is to Mozart and to the muscular Brahms of the first piano concerto. This is followed by a grand dance - halting, hesitant but grand nonetheless, a Bachian andante and a chuggingly affable Allegro finale.

The Op. 36 work is, in contrast, a work of Pfitzner's ripe maturity. The work is close to 40 minutes long and its epic scope translated into an orchestration as a symphony. Under this mantle it is probably better known. It is a work of great strength. The initial Ziemlich ruhig pitches and cants around the aural scenery in unbridled abandon: like sparks and brands flying out of one of Bernard van Dieren's string quartets (now there is a project for CPO) or the accompaniment to Warlock's song cycle The Curlew. The Sehr schnell is fast, ghostly - a leering nightride. The langsam third movement is a rocking Zemlinskian dream. The finale is passionate, bursting the fetters of the quartet medium and seeming to be more in the nature of a violin concerto complete with gypsy fire and searing cinders.

I look forward to later instalments of Pfitzner's accessible chamber music. Certainly recommended for the explorer - as also is the other CPO disc.

-- Rob BarnettMusicWeb International


Hans Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. His best known work is the post-Romantic opera Palestrina, loosely based on the life of the sixteenth-century composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Pfitzner's music, including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem, was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. His works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music. Pfitzner's students included musicians such as Otto Klemperer, Charles Münch and Carl Orff.


The Franz Schubert Quartet was founded in 1974 by students of the Vienna Musikhochschule. In the same year as it was founded, the quartet began an international career by securing the first prize at the International String Quartet Competition of the European Broadcasting Union in Stockholm. The members of the quartet are active as teachers at the Vienna Conservatory and the Musikhochschule Graz and hold regular master classes at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Several important musical personalities, among them Louis Krasner, Paul Tortelier and Herbert von Karajan, have helped to form an artistic direction for the quartet.


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