BBC Music Magazine

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We suggest works to explore a er Schubert’s Death and the Maiden


LMendelsso­hn’s Sixth Quartet depicts the grief he was su ering

ike Death and the Maiden, Schubert’s other quartet from 1824, the ‘Rosamunde’ in A minor, is suffused with melancholy. References to earlier works such as the Die Götter Griechenla­nds and – in terms of texture if not direct quotation – the song Grettchen am Spinnrade serve to remind us poignantly of the composer’s younger, comparativ­ely less careworn existence. (Belcea Quartet Warner Classics 5574192)

Also in the key of A minor is Mendelssoh­n’s

Second String

Quartet, composed in 1827 at the age of only 18 and remarkable not just for its craftsmans­hip but also its emotional depth. While influenced by the late quartets of Beethoven, who had died months earlier, it also shares a resemblanc­e with Death and the Maiden in being based on a song – in this instance ‘Ist es Wahr’ (‘Is it True?’), which Mendelssoh­n had composed earlier that year. (Quatuor Ebène Erato 464 5462)

Mendelssoh­n’s String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, meanwhile, was written six months after the death of his beloved sister Fanny in May 1847, and depicts the intense grief he was experienci­ng – bearing the title ‘Requiem for Fanny’, its mood is one of almost unrelentin­g anxiety, despair and rage. Poignantly, it was also his last ever major work, as just two months after its completion, he himself was dead. (Escher String Quartet BIS 2160)

Dedicated to Brahms, Dvorák’s

String Quartet No. 9 was composed shortly after the deaths of two of his children, Ru˚zena and Otakar. Sharing a key signature with Death and the Maiden, the Czech’s 1877 work is characteri­sed by a similarly harddriven Finale, while really sharp-eared listeners may also spot the reference to Grettchen am Spinnrade in the opening movement. The desolation depicted in the Adagio third movement is, on the other hand, impossible to miss. (Wihan Quartet Nimbus NI6115)

Hugo Wolf is remembered today as a great master of song, arguably second only to Schubert. His only string quartet, in D minor, was composed from 1879-84, and is both powerful and highly dramatic. The first movement, in particular, is marked by a sense of desperatio­n that reflects Wolf’s own mental struggles. (Auryn Quartet CPO 999 5292)

 ??  ?? Poignant tribute: Fanny Mendelssoh­n’s death devastated her brother, Felix
Poignant tribute: Fanny Mendelssoh­n’s death devastated her brother, Felix

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