Franz Peter Schubert (31.01.1797 – 19.11.1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his early death, arising from from typhus and syphilis, Schubert left behind a vast output of fine music. He wrote more than 600 songs (or lieder), more than a dozen string quartets and 21 piano sonatas; he completed seven symphonies, with many more left unfinished; he wrote operas, masses, piano trios and duets. Yet there was only one public performance of his music during his lifetime.
His most important works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D667 ‘The Trout’ (see Work 6 in our collection), his last three Piano Sonatas Nos. 19 – 21, the Symphony No. 9 in C major, D944 ‘The Great’, Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D759 ‘Unfinished’, his two great song cycles Winterreise D911, Die schöne Müllerin, D795 (see Work 62 in our collection) and his String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 ‘Death and the Maiden’.
Schubert’s famous String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 ‘Death and the Maiden’ is one of the pillars of the repertoire. We have chosen a remarkable recording by the Takács Quartet on the Hyperion label. This performance, recorded following a global concert series, is truly electrifying. Their reading of the second movement is characterized by unremitting pain and mystery. While three of the musicians intone the insistent theme of Death in pursuit of the Maiden, Edward Dusinberre’s violin expressed poignantly the Maiden’s tender fragility and rising panic. This recording will overturn any preconceptions about the manner in which this work should be performed. Listening to this performance will have you convinced that there’s no other way the music should be played. It is very rare that I feel that about any performance of any work so this is quite exceptional.