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Schumann The String Quartets

New CD due for release on BIS Records July 2018

String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1
String Quartet in F major, Op. 41 No. 2
String Quartet in A major, Op. 41 No. 3

The three string quartets comprising op. 41 were written in just a few weeks in a ‘veritable creative frenzy’ in 1842 in what is known as Schumann’s ‘chamber music year’. 

Schumann gave the three quartets to Clara for her 23rd birthday on 13th September 1842. In the couple’s shared diary she noted: ‘The gift of his three quartets – which he arranged to be performed for me... that very evening... – brought me the greatest joy. About the quartets, all I can say is that they delighted me to the utmost. Everything in them is new, clear, expertly worked out and always idiomatic.’ The fact that Schumann wrote no more string quartets does not indicate that he was dissatisfied with them: in 1847 he wrote to his publisher Härtel that he still regarded the quartets ‘as my best work from earlier times’. And posterity has unanimously shared the view of the eminent Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick that the three Op. 41 quartets ‘are among the all-time jewels of chamber music’

Horst A Scholtz 2018

 

The CD will be available for purchase on the BIS Records online store from 10th July 2018.

 
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Mozart Prussian Quartets - kv.575, 589 og 590

 

From the time they began playing together, the members of the Engegård Quartet have worked with Mozart’s string quartets. Now, ten years later, the results can be heard on the quartet’s first release on the LAWO Classics label. 

The album features the three “Prussian Quartets”, the last that Mozart wrote, in 1789 and 1790. The nickname comes from King Frederick William II of Prussia, to whom Mozart had intended to dedicate the pieces — a plan not realized when they were published. 

There is some doubt as to whether it was really the King who commissioned the works, but Mozart had him in mind in any case when he wrote them. And to make them appealing to the King, who was a competent cello player, special attention was paid to the cello part. 

 
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Grieg String Quartet in G-minor op.27
Olav Anton Thommessen - Felix Remix (2014)
Sibelius Voces - Intimae op.56

This recording launches a new phase in the life of the Engegård Quartet, both in terms of programming a themed recording, this time with a pure Nordic programme, and with a new record label, BIS.  The Engegård Quartet’s latest CD includes two of the Nordic string quartets that have received the greatest international attention, and have the firmest foothold in the quartet repertoire, Grieg´s String Quartet No.1 in G minor op.27 (1877-78) and Sibelius’ String Quartet in D minor op.56 ‘Voces Intimae’.  Grieg himself wrote that the G minor quartet, ‘concealed samples of that heart’s blood of which it is to be hoped posterity will see more than a few drops’.  The CD also includes the Engegård Quartet´s own commission from Olav Anton Thomessen (b.1946-), his String Quartet No.4, ‘Felix Remix’ (2014).

 
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Schubert – Rosamunde Quartet
Maja Ratkje – Tale of lead and light
Benjamin Britten – String Quartet no.2
Joseph Haydn – String Quartet op.76 no.3

Perhaps the greatest single characteristic of Franz Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet (1823) is the elusive, longing and perhaps even tragically unconsummated atmosphere that pervades the entire work. Only in the Andante are we really allowed to relax in its peaceful serenity.

The ambiguity in the title of Maja Ratkje’s Tale of Lead and Light (2011) reflects the dread which pervaded Oslo in the summer of 2011, and the life-affirming light of Beethoven’s opus 59/1 which inspired Maja’s work.

 
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Joseph Haydn - String Quartet op.77 no.1
Arne Nordheim - 'Duplex'
Bartok - String Quartet no.5

 

The combination of Haydn Opus 77/1, Nordheim’s Duplex and Bartók’s Fifth String Quartet, was an irresistible challenge for us. A choice of programme from our hearts. We aim for our recordings to be like our concerts, with balance throughout the programme and a feeling of having fulfilled a journey at the end. It is also imperative for us to have a close relationship with the works we record. Our primarius, Arvid, has a special connection with both Bartók’s Fifth Quartet through his mentor Sándor Végh, and with Duplex because of his contact with Arne Nordheim. The great quartets of Joseph Haydn are an ongoing project, and the joyful opening of Opus 77/1 sweeps the listener headlong into our third programme with 2L. 

 

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Ludvig van Beethoven - String Quartet op.74
Arne Nordheim - String Quartet 1956
Bartok - String Quartet no.3

The monumental creativity which Beethoven, Haydn and Bartók gave to the genre of the string quartet is our greatest inspiration. In the Harp we find Beethoven at his most entertaining and least problematic, although slightly provocative in the almost forced gentleness of the final movement. We chose to record the String Quartet 1956 including its incredibly atmospheric final Largo in honour of one of Norway's greatest composer, Arne Nordheim. The intensity and individuality of Bartók's 3rd Quartet make it a natural conclusion for us, juxtaposing the most intimate and lonely music with hard-hitting rhythmic sections which only Bartók could bring off. 

The Engegård Quartet made their first appearance at the 2006 Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. Inspired by the midnight sun, their musical landscape ranges from glowing core energy to the gentle lyrical sound of Norwegian nature.

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Joseph Haydn - String Quartet op 77. no. 1
Leif Solberg - String Quartet
Grieg - String Quartet in G-minor op.27

The Engegård Quartet made their first appearance at the 2006 Lofoten International Music Festival. Inspired by the midnight sun, their musical landscape ranges from glowing core energy to the gentle lyrical sound of Norwegian nature. Edvard Grieg and Leif Solberg are natural choices for this Scandinavian quartet, complimented by the music of Joseph Haydn reflected in a Nordic atmosphere. The strong musical nerve is emphasized by an intense sound production by Lindberg Lyd.

 
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CATHARINUS ELLING:
Strykekvartett i D-Dur ·
Strykekvartett i a-moll ·
Pianokvartett i g-moll  with Nils Anders Mortensen, piano

The quartets of Catharinus Elling (1858-1942) are written in a full-bodied German romantic idiom. When performed by the Engegård Quartet, sparks are flying. Grieg was the key to Elling’s career. Thanks to a letter of recommendation from him, Elling travelled to Berlin in 1886 to audition for Herzogenberg’s masterclass at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. Elling’s letters to Grieg reveal a fairly conservative outlook with Mozart and Beethoven as his prime models, while more modern music by Bruckner and Wagner was hardlyto his taste.

Traditional
Elling’s compositional style never departed from a romantic musical idiom. His ideals are borrowed from the German school as it is manifested in the music of Schubert via Mendelssohn and Schumann to Brahms. His output covers works for orchestra, chamber music, some 200
songs and many choral pieces, piano pieces and the opera Taras Bulba. He never dated his compositions, nor mentioned them in letters, but based on reviews of performances there is good reason to suppose that the works on this recording were all composed between 1890 and
1905.

Wow!
The opening of Elling’s Piano Quartet in G minor is without doubt the most compelling contribution of all to Norwegian music history. The broad gestures within the strong framework, the colour palette of the instrumentation, the sparkle in the virtuoso piano part. Quickly
checking the title page again; no it does not say Brahms or Mendelssohn – it actually says Catharinus Elling from Oslo!