Klassik  Kammermusik Instrumental
delian::quartett & Igor Kamenz Robert Schumann: String Quartet a Minor op. 41/1, Piano Quintet E-flat Major op. 44 OC 711 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 711
Release date05/05/2008
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Schumann, Robert

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      Description hide

      delian::quartet: Adrian Pinzaru, Andreas Moscho, Aida-Carmen Soanea & Romain Garioud Igor Kamenz, piano

      Only in its first season, the Delian Quartet is already attracting attention. Widely acclaimed appearances at major music festivals have already brought the ensemble re-invitations; the coming season promises major new concerts. The German-French-Romanian quartet’s profile includes regular cooperation with guest artists – it has already performed with instrumentalists such as Gérard Caussé, Dimitri Ashkenazy, Gilles Apap, Andreas Frölich, Ralph Manno and Mihaela Ursuleasa. The Delian Quartet already won a world star for projects with narration: Armin Mueller-Stahl. On its debut CD, the four young musicians also present a guest – Igor Kamenz on piano in Schumann’s Piano Quintett.

      Adrian Pinzaru, violin
      Andreas Moscho, violin
      Aida-Carmen Soanea, viola
      Romain Garioud, cello
      Igor Kamenz, piano

      Music and Poesy: On Robert Schumann’s String Quartet No. 1 and Piano Quintet

      In the course of his development as a composer [meant here is Robert Schumann], the obvious influence of the intrusion of the Jewish essence on our art, which I have previously discussed, can easily be proven. Compare the first and second halves of Robert Schumann’s creative career: formerly a flexible drive to shaping his material; later, blurry, pompous surfaces that approach secretive triviality with no content.” This is Richard Wagner’s commentary on Robert Schumann in his Judaism in Music, the first edition of which was published in 1850.

      Wagner was certain what the source of Jewish influence on Schumann was: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. In the same publication, Wagner accuses Mendelssohn of smooth artifice as well as a lack of depth and “emotional sensitivity”. And nothing else was meant by one of the Nazi era’s successful critics, Otto Schumann, when he wrote in 1940 in his History of German Music that Mendelssohn’s music is characterized by “polished facileness”. As late as 1983, Otto Schumann published an Extensive Guide to Concert Repertoire in West Germany which expresses a similar ideology – we read once again about the Mendelssohnian smoothness “that makes one uneasy”.

      But let’s return to Wagner’s remarks on Robert Schumann. Viewed superficially, it was no great effort for Wagner to find evidence for his thesis. On the one hand, Schumann himself revered Mendelssohn and his works. On April 1, 1836, for example, he wrote to his sister-in-law Therese that he had always looked up to Mendelssohn “as though to a lofty mountain peak”. We also see that the three String Quartets op. 41 are dedicated to Mendelssohn.

      Just as the Piano Quintet op. 44, they were written in 1842, a creative year for chamber music that falls into the latter half of Schumann’s career about which Wagner so disparagingly speaks. In these works, Schumann certainly approaches that “classicism” he so highly praised in Mendelssohn. In a review of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio op. 49, Schumann had called his idol the “Mozart of the 19th century”. But despite this, things are not that simple. In particular, the string quartets associated with Mendelssohn reveal a host of additional influences and ideas.

      One example is the String Quartet No. 1 in A minor. The first movement begins with a slow introduction that can hardly deny its similarity to a liturgical prayer. The Adagio, in turn, begins with an antecedent reminiscent of the beginning of the slow movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Finally, at the end of the final movement’s development, a motive consisting of two half-tone steps separated by a third sounds clearly like the motivic nucleus of Beethoven’s later String Quartets op. 130–133.

      But above all, Schumann continues his own personal style – both in his String Quartet No. 1 as well as in the famous Piano Quintet in E-flat major – which could be called “poetic music”. It is well known that Schumann’s intellectual world was suffused with Jean Paul and his poetry-centered aesthetics. And Schumann saw in poesy – as he stated in a speech in September 1827 – an “idealized world”. In a letter to Clara Wieck from January 24, 1839, he says that the composer has to be a poet.

      And Schumann – in the sense of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – understood the poetic in music to be a “language of the soul” and an expression of conviction that simultaneously characterizes the romantic. For Schumann, “romantic” and “poetic” were synonymous. Just this Piano Quintet, dedicated to Clara Wieck, makes the extent of Schumann’s aesthetic perspective clear.

      The work’s core is its slow movement, which is de facto a funeral march. In the second movement of his “Eroica”, Beethoven had first introduced the funeral march to the symphonic genre. Mendelssohn also composed such a piece in his Songs Without Words for Piano op. 62/3 from 1841/44. Chopin’s Marche funèbre, the third movement from his Piano Sonata op. 35 from 1836/39 became famous. This gesture of mourning became a central genre in the romantic period. In the Agitato section of the slow movement of the Piano Quintet, the aria “Es ist vollbracht” from Bach’s St. John Passion is also heard. In the Finale, the funeral march is intertwined with other themes from the work.

      Here, at the latest, it is clear: “The Piano Quintet impresses [the listener] with its great density of events that make reflection on its structure seem hardly necessary, one could even say: not even meaningful,” according to Martin Geck. It is just this density of events, Schumann’s openness for the extra-musical and his concept of a poetic music that pave the way – at least to an extent – for Wagner’s idea of Gesamtkunstwerk. Seen in this light, Wagner’s comments about Schumann are so disconcerting because he did himself such a disservice with them.

      Marco Frei
      Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Robert Schumann (1810–1856)
        String Quartet No. 1 in A minor op. 41/1
        • 1.Introduzione. Andante espressivo – Allegro09.42
        • 2.Scherzo. Presto – Intermezzo03:55
        • 3.Adagio06:29
        • 4.Presto06:38
      • Piano Quintet in E-flat major op. 44
        • 5.Allegro brillante09:44
        • 6.In modo d’una Marcia. Un poco largamente – Agitato09:59
        • 7.Scherzo. Molto vivace04:56
        • 8.Allegro ma non troppo07:24
      • Total:49:05