Friday, July 7, 2017

Hans Pfitzner - String Quartets Op. 13 & Op. 50 (Franz Schubert Quartet)


Composer: Hans Pfitzner
  1. String Quartet in D major, Op. 13: I. In mäßig gehender Bewegung
  2. String Quartet in D major, Op. 13: II. Kräftig mit Humor
  3. String Quartet in D major, Op. 13: III. Sehr langsam -
  4. String Quartet in D major, Op. 13: IV. Rondo. Im heiteren Reigentempo
  5. String Quartet in C minor, Op. 50: I. Einleitung. Andante -
  6. String Quartet in C minor, Op. 50: II. Andantino
  7. String Quartet in C minor, Op. 50: III. Langsam -
  8. String Quartet in C minor, Op. 50: IV. Allegro

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

Date: 1996
Label: cpo



Pfitzner's complete orchestral music is resplendently done on five CPO discs. The company have now turned to his chamber music and with pleasantly implacable resolve seem intent on recording the complete output. The first stage is the string quartets. These two each last just under half an hour.

Pfitzner is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as Reger. In fact there is about as much in common between those two as between another pair often bracketed together (Bruckner and Mahler) in the dark ages of the 1950s and 1960s. Pfitzner is not a man to write wild and woolly mammoths of works and Max's penchant (to which he sometimes capitulates with joyous indulgence) for prolixity is not something you can associate with Pfitzner.

The two quartets stare at each other across a void of forty years: one written 12 years before the Great War and the other written in old age during World War II. Both are attractive works and the style has hardly changed over the years. The Bachian purity and Dvorák-like romance of the first movement of Op. 13 puts not a foot wrong. There is a delightful second movement with a refrain recalling Three Blind Mice, a third movement of bruising emotionalism and a finale in the spirit of some cheery German drinking song - brimming steins and all! The Op. 54 work is hooded and reserved in the first movement and in the langsam (III) assumes the Mozartian mantle of wit and dignified beauty. The finale (Allegro) is alive with a fantasy familiar from Elgar's Introduction and Allegro.

CPO's sensitivity to artistic needs is usually high. This is noted in a hundred and one little features: for example the good long gap between the end of the 1902 work and the start of the 1942 work. Documentation excellent.

-- 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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