Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3, Opp. 7 & 30 (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:19:16 minutes | 1,42 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © BIS
After covering Schoenberg’s Second and Fourth String Quartets on a previous album, the Gringolts Quartet return to tackle his First and Third quartets. Schoenberg, who is mostly associated with the decline of tonality, is not a composer who is for everyone, however if one were to dip their toes into the pool of atonality, serialism and twelve-tone, then the String Quartet No. 1 in D minor is a great place to start. Considered his first ‘assured masterpiece’ (which even Brahm’s allegedly approved of!) Schoenberg sticks largely to the key of D minor, the word ‘largely’ is used here as he does make fantastic work of extended tonality and tight motivic structure to create interesting musical development.
Scored as one singular movement, coming in at over 45 minutes of constant music, the Gringolts Quartet have divided this up into the more standard four-movement quartet structure for this recording. These four ‘movements’ coincide with score markings left by the composer that chart a progression from “rebellion” and “depression” to “quiet joy and the contemplation of rest and harmony.” From the first instance, the Gringolts Quartet work together mightily to support the soaring impact of the violin’s opening line before all melding together to create complex polyphonic texture. In the second movement, the group portray the ‘kräftig’ (strong) aspect with great restraint, leaving the violins to flutter over the flowing lower harmonies. Their refined reservation throughout the piece maintains a fantastic sense of tension and release in a quartet where very little thematic content is present but is instead recycled. The immense orchestral sound that Schoenberg’s scoring was able to achieve with just four instruments is displayed in all its glory by the Gringolts Quartet.
Some twenty years on from his first quartet, Schoenberg had developed his twelve-tone method, which is evident in String Quartet No. 3. This is one of the first pieces that Schoenberg used a tone row, however he couples this with the ‘fundamental classicistic procedure’ of the string quartet, which he is said to have modelled off of Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 29. The quartet begins with continuous eighth notes that support a soaring melody, articulated particularly well by the Gringolts Quartet as they trade motives between instruments. The second movement comes with a sense of questioning, but with very little answer, perhaps due to the twelve-tone nature of the piece. After creating a poignant and repressed atmosphere, the Gringolts then flourish in the Intermezzo and its fantastically wonky time signature of 9/8. The group again practise great restraint between the minuet and trio sections to create more motivic clarity, which is essential in this music.
The Gringolts Quartet have created an album that is a must for any Schoenberg enthusiast as they display a deep understanding of his development as a composer throughout these quartets. And if one is not quite yet a Schoenberg enthusiast, this album is a great place to start. – Jessica Porter-Langson
01. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7: I. Nicht zu rasch (13:43)
02. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7: II. Kräftig (12:15)
03. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7: III. Mäßig (12:14)
04. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 7: IV. Mäßig (08:49)
05. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30: I. Moderato (09:05)
06. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30: II. Adagio (08:43)
07. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30: III. Intermezzo. Allegro moderato (07:24)
08. Gringolts Quartet – Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 30: IV. Rondo. Molto moderato (07:00)