The Signum Quartett has just released a third album in its exploration of the music of Franz Schubert. All three of these extraordinary recordings have been released on the Pentatone label.
If you are a member of Classical Archives, you have probably already been exploring the following two Signum releases, which are now in the Classical Archives streaming library . . .
Aus der Ferne, which includes Schubert string quartets No. 8 and No. 13, as well as arrangements of six Schubert songs for string quartet.
Ins stille Land, which includes Schubert string quartets No. 6 and No. 14, and arrangements of seven more Schubert songs.
Now Pentatone and the Signum Quartett have released a third CD, entitled Lebensmuth, which includes two more Schubert string quartets (a revealing juxtaposition of the early No. 1 and the late No. 15), as well as arrangement for string quartet of five more songs, including “An die Nachtigall” (“to the Nightingale”) and the bittersweet “Im Frühling” (“in Spring”). Lebensmuth will soon be added to the Classical Archives streaming library. But until it is, you can whet your ears by listing to Aus der Ferne and Ins stille Land, which are already here on Classical Archives.
By juxtaposing recordings of complete string quartets with arrangements of Schubert songs, all these albums deepen our understanding of Schubert. The experience of listening to these CDs surpasses just listening to music. It is very much like entering the troubled, loving, and optimistic mind of Schubert himself.
About the Lebensmuth CD
Lebensmuth is the third and final episode of the Signum Quartett’s acclaimed Schubert trilogy, in which early and late string quartets are combined with song arrangements created by the group’s violist Xandi van Dijk. Schubert’s First String Quartet in G Minor, written when he was 13, already reveals his inclination to bold and unexpected moves. His last String Quartet in G major, D. 887 veers between a profound examination of personal trauma and a blazing triumph over adversity, and it is this resilience of spirit which is further highlighted by songs such as “An die Musik” and “Lebensmuth,” pieces that courageously embrace life and all the beauty it offers. The Signum Quartett is frequently hailed as one of the most adventurous and outstanding ensembles of today. The quartet’s first Pentatone recording Aus der Ferne (2018) won an Opus Klassik 2019 award, as well as a diapason d’or, and was followed by Ins stille Land (2020).
Why these Albums Reveal So Much about the Life and Music of Franz Schubert
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) contracted syphilis in about 1822 and lived with the debilitating effects of the disease for his remaining years. He withdrew from teaching but despite his reclusive life, he continued to compose at a feverish pace. His output of more than 600 astonishing songs ranks as one of the greatest accomplishments of any composer.
Schubert’s songs, including those arranged for string quartet and played by Signum, embody a deep layer of emotionality that is nothing short of extraordinary. Even the most outwardly cheerful of them are imbued with an unmistakable feeling of sadness. And even the saddest of them seem to express a deep love and embrace of the innate beauty and wonder of life.
These albums from Pentatone and the Signum Quartett go well beyond excellent music-making. They, like the music of Schubert himself, are intense human documents that tell us about not just music, but about life itself.