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Dvorak, Schubert String Quartets


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SKU: 39417 Category:


Quartet in D minor - Allegro
Quartet in D minor - Andante con moto
Quartet in D minor - Scherzo
Quartet in D minor - Presto
Quartet no. 12 in F Major - Allegro ma non troppo
Quartet no. 12 in F Major - Lento
Quartet no. 12 in F Major - Molto vivace
Quartet no. 12 in F Major - Finale


Death and the Maiden 

The String Quartet in D minor ‘Death and the Maiden’ D.810, written in 1824- 1826, has become, with the Trout Quintet, one of the most famous and popular works by Franz Schubert. While the Trout Quintet was his first piece of chamber music to be well received in his time, reactions to the String Quartet ‘Death and the Maiden’ were initially mixed. In his Reminiscences of Schubert and Beethoven, written in 1881, Franz Lachner, who was befriended with Schubert from 1822, wrote: ‘This quartet, which now delights the entire world and is one of the greatest achievements in the genre, was hardly received with unanimous approval. After playing it through, first violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh, who by reason of this great age was not up to the task, proposed to the composer: “Dear brother, this is nothing, leave it out and keep to your songs”, at which Schubert silently gathered the pages of music and locked them up for ever in his desk.’ The String Quartet ‘Death and the Maiden’ thanks its name to the Andante, a series of five variations on the song of the same name written by Schubert in 1817 to a text by Matthias Claudius. In the song we hear the intense mortal fear of a young girl and her desperate pleas to the Grim Reaper to let her go. Death, posing as a good-natured friend, attempts to soothe her: ‘Sei guten Muts. Ich bin nicht wild, sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen’ (Be of good cheer. I am not fierce, you shall sleep softly in my arms.)

A Bohemian in America

The music of Antonín Dvořák is deeply rooted in the folk music of his fatherland Bohemia. Even during his American period his homeland was never far away, as we hear in the Cello Concerto and the Ninth Symphony ‘From the New World’. At the time, between 1892-95, Dvořák was director of the recently established National Conservatory of Music in New York. Despite their decidedly Bohemian character, these compositions and the String Quartet opus 96 have become known as the composer’s American works. 4 Dvořák wrote his String Quartet opus 96 in just three days while on holiday in Spillville, a little colony of Bohemian emigrants in Iowa. He stayed there in the pleasant company of farmers, friendly priests and hearty housewives, among whom he could speak his native language. It has been suggested that this may explain the relative simplicity of the work. About his stay in Spillville Dvořák wrote: ‘As far as my new Symphony, the F-major String Quartet and the Piano Quintet (written here in Spillville) are concerned – I would never have written them in this way if I had not seen America’. The themes of the four movements seem to originate from Bohemian or American folk tunes, in view of the fact that they are based on the pentatonic scale F-G-A-C-D. The second movement suggests a melancholic negro spiritual, as if the Bohemian Dvořák is writing to get his own homesickness out of his mind. The sparkling third movement (Scherzo) imitates the rhapsodic warbling of an American bird, the Scarlet Tanager. The quartet closes with a rondo in which echoes are heard of the church music of ‘Bohemian’ Spillville, which Dvořák and his wife regularly took part in. And do we also hear a steam train speeding along in the distance? 

Additional information


Analog to digital converter


Digital to analog converter


Mastering equiment


Mastering engineer

Jared Sacks


van der Hul

Mixing console

Rens Heijnis custom made


Bruel & Kyaer

Recording format


Recording date

JUly 2016



Recording location



Jared Sacks

Recording engineer

Jared Sacks


Jared Sacks


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Grimm LS1

Press reviews


Wat we horen is strijkkwartetspel op hoog niveau. Virtuoos, fraai van klank (…)

Mit ihrer ersten CD liefern die vier Musiker des Dragon Quartet eine erstklassige Leistung ab. Ihre in jeder Hinsicht stimmige Interpretation zeigt, dass man auch häufig gespielte Werke immer wieder aufs Neue entdecken kann. (…) Schon nach den ersten Takten von Schuberts Streichquartett weiß der Hörer, dass die Solisten des Dragon Quartet genau wissen, was sie da tun. (…) Auch das ‚Amerikanische’ Quartett von Dvořák steht seinem Vorgänger hinsichtlich der Stimmigkeit der Interpretation, der Ausgewogenheit des Klangs, der Brillanz der Virtuosität und nicht zuletzt der Schönheit des Klangs in nichts nach. (…) Vielversprechender kann ein Debut kaum sein.

De Volkskrant 6.25 out of 5

Schubert springt bij de Chinezen tevoorschijn als een gespierde dichter. En Dvorák toont zijn weemoed zonder effectbejag.

Nederlands Dagblad

Ze geven een levendige, op en top muzikale interpretatie van deze muziek.

The Guardian

If you don’t already have recordings and want this combination, these are fresh, played with pinpoint accuracy, well paced and free from excessive vibrato (noticeably in the opening bars of the Schubert). If “Death in the Maiden” feels a little cool for some tastes, the Dvorák is a delight.

Opus Klassiek

Ze kennen hun Dvorák en hun Schubert, en ze spelen … de sterren van de hemel. (…) een opname die klinkt als een klok.

Audiophile Audition [Best Of The Year] 5 out of 5

(…) debut recording of a powerhouse Chinese ensemble (…) This could be the group that moves into the spot vacated by the now defunct Tokyo String Quartet. It is a tremendous debut and very well recorded

Diapason 6.25 out of 5

La dynamique, l’intonation et la cohésion sont en tout cas superlatives.

Music Emotion

Zeer fraaie uitvoering.


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