||Robert Schumann - Piano Quintet Op. 44 - String Quartets Op. 41/1-3 (First Version) - Leipzig String Quartet -
Christian Zacharias (Piano) - 2CD - MDG 3071610|
Robert Schumann settled down to writing chamber-music only late in his life, after he had gone through long phases of devoting his time and effort
to composing strictly for the piano, the voice, and the symphony orchestra, one genre at a time. It is immediately apparent that his best was saved for last, because there
is no doubt in my mind that Schumann's chamber-music is some of the best ever written. Somewhat like Brahms struggling to create a first symphony that could match
Beethoven's efforts, so did Schumann doubt that any new quartet could hold a candle to any of Beethoven's late quartets. Once he got started in the summer of 1842, he
worked at a feverish pace and composed all three in sequence, each one taking about 10 days to complete. Amazing when you consider the quality of the music contained
within them. He then went on to write the Piano Quintet in September of the same year, which saw its première with Clara Schumann at the piano, only four months later.
It seems that Felix Mendelssohn, after hearing performances of the quartets, heavily criticized them which prompted Schumann to revise them extensively. The revised
and abridged versions are the commonly used editions for most recordings, but here the Leipzig String Quartet have chosen to record the original
versions in their unabridged form.