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Quartet in E-flat D.87

Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)

Cuarteto Casals

Cuarteto Casals

Composer
Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Composition Year
1813
Work Movements
1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo - Prestissimo
3. Adagio
4. Allegro
Artists
Cuarteto Casals (Abel Tomás Realp, Vera Martinez Mehner [violins] Jonathan Brown [viola] Arnau Tomás Realp [cello])

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

This quartet dates from Schubert’s youth, just after he had left the Imperial Seminary in 1813 where he had been studying as a boarder for five years. He had got a scholarship there as a result of being a member of the Court Chapel Choir, but his voice had broken the previous year. He was offered a renewal of his scholarship only if he gave up music. By this stage Schubert was already a prolific composer and there was no question of him giving up composing in order to improve his other subjects. So the sixteen-year-old Schubert returned to his father's house and began studies at a teacher training school - his father was also a teacher.

The household was a musical one and there was a family string quartet involving his father and his brothers Ignaz and Ferdinand. The E flat Quartet was already his eighth quartet, which gives some idea of his speed of composition. Clearly the amateur in-house quartet made it possible for him to try out some of his music, but the time was drawing near when he would need professional musicians to interpret his ideas. All four movements are in E flat, which may explain the extreme tempo contrast between the two middle movements from Prestissimo to Adagio - without a contrast in key he needed a contrast in dynamics to establish their individuality. The opening movement is a gentle and lyrical Allegro, with long, unhurried melodies that effortlessly support the structure. The development is short but the youthful composer is already mastering the intricacies of a concise and effective sonata form. The rough humour of the brief but hectic Scherzo owes much to both Beethoven and Haydn, while the tranquil Adagio maintains a quiet serenity over its compact, sonata-form span. The finale is distinguished by a totally irresistible second subject following after a jaunty first subject. This is another crisp sonata-form movement with a powerful surging development. Schubert's biographer, Brian Newbould, considers it his most successful pre-1820 quartet for its structural confidence, melodic invention and succinct expression. 

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Quartet in E-flat D.87

Composer: Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Performance date: Saturday 29th June 2013
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Franz Schubert (b. 1797 - d. 1828)
Work Title Quartet in E-flat D.87
Composition Year 1813
Work Movements 1. Allegro moderato
2. Scherzo - Prestissimo
3. Adagio
4. Allegro
Artist(s) Cuarteto Casals (Abel Tomás Realp, Vera Martinez Mehner [violins] Jonathan Brown [viola] Arnau Tomás Realp [cello])
Performance Date Saturday 29th June 2013
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:21:29
Recording Engineer Damian Chennells, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category String Quartet
Instrumentation 2vn, va, vc
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

This quartet dates from Schubert’s youth, just after he had left the Imperial Seminary in 1813 where he had been studying as a boarder for five years. He had got a scholarship there as a result of being a member of the Court Chapel Choir, but his voice had broken the previous year. He was offered a renewal of his scholarship only if he gave up music. By this stage Schubert was already a prolific composer and there was no question of him giving up composing in order to improve his other subjects. So the sixteen-year-old Schubert returned to his father's house and began studies at a teacher training school - his father was also a teacher.

The household was a musical one and there was a family string quartet involving his father and his brothers Ignaz and Ferdinand. The E flat Quartet was already his eighth quartet, which gives some idea of his speed of composition. Clearly the amateur in-house quartet made it possible for him to try out some of his music, but the time was drawing near when he would need professional musicians to interpret his ideas. All four movements are in E flat, which may explain the extreme tempo contrast between the two middle movements from Prestissimo to Adagio - without a contrast in key he needed a contrast in dynamics to establish their individuality. The opening movement is a gentle and lyrical Allegro, with long, unhurried melodies that effortlessly support the structure. The development is short but the youthful composer is already mastering the intricacies of a concise and effective sonata form. The rough humour of the brief but hectic Scherzo owes much to both Beethoven and Haydn, while the tranquil Adagio maintains a quiet serenity over its compact, sonata-form span. The finale is distinguished by a totally irresistible second subject following after a jaunty first subject. This is another crisp sonata-form movement with a powerful surging development. Schubert's biographer, Brian Newbould, considers it his most successful pre-1820 quartet for its structural confidence, melodic invention and succinct expression.