Robert Schumann composed, almost in a frenzy, his two works for strings and piano during the "chamber music year" of 1842. The quintet Op. 44 and the quartet Op. 47, highlights of nineteenth century chamber music, are works of exuberant energy and romantic internalization. The piano part, which Schumann intended for his newly wedded wife, Clara, is played by Claire-Marie Le Guay on this recording with the Mandelring Quartett.
This disc features two pieces of Robert Schumann, the Piano Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 47, and the Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44. Both are played extremely well by the Mandelring Quartett and featuring Claire-Marie Le Guay on piano (somehow fitting given that the piano part was originally written for Robertís wife Clara to perform). The Piano Quartet is astonishing not only in that it was written by a thirty-two year old Robert Schumann, but that he did so in only one week on October 30, 1842. The first movement definitely gets the ball rolling with brisk piano playing and answers from the strings, and the second movement Scherzo is just a frenetic burst of energy and the Mandelring Quartett and Ms. Le Guay are more than up to the task. The third movement features a lovely cello theme and closes with several gorgeous harmonies that seem to just float. The fourth and final movement gathers up all of the threads brought forth by the first three and ends energetically.
The Piano Quintet in E-flat major is perhaps most recognizable to the ear for the funeral march in the second movement. It is so markedly different in mood than the bright first movement that the listener has little choice but to sit in rapt attention as Schumann transitions to bright and purposeful theme, then back to the funeral march, and a slow close to the movement. The third movement gets things back off to the races again, and again the Mandelring Quartett and Ms. Le Guay are more than up to the task of bringing this music to life. Their balance and voicing is marvelous, and the music enjoyable and uplifting. The fourth and final movement begins with a march-like theme that winds around until it comes to a purposeful close.
Fine musicianship, good music, and a most welcome addition to this listenerís collection. Recommended.
Submitted on 11/15/10 by KlingonOpera