are times when a musical performance stirs and inspires, and
this is one of them. Although the work itself is powerful in
its own nature and has an important place in the chamber repertoire,
this live recording is particularly fresh, dynamic and urgent.
It is a disc I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to and one
I have replayed well beyond the call of duty. For a live recording,
its quality, which is good by any standards, is exceptional.
said, I do have some minor reservations. The accompanying notes,
whilst quite informative about the work itself, give no information
whatsoever about the musicians beyond the names of the members
of the quartet. This seems an unfortunate omission, particularly
in view of the quality of their playing. Those who enjoy this
performance may be interested to know that they have recorded
a series of string quartets by British composers on the Naxos label, including Peter Maxwell Davies'
'Naxos Quartet' sequence. They have their own website, www.maggini.net,
where information on their performances, recordings and biography
can be found.
other main gripe is that, in comparison with some of its rivals,
the disc is a little short in its overall playing time. The
earlier items, Quartettsatz and Five Minuets and Trios are pleasant earlier
works. Some other discs have weightier pairings, such as with
the Trout Quartet, e.g. a performance by LSO
principals, joined by Moura Lympany (piano) (see review).
view is that the quality and energy of this performance of Death
and the Maiden outweigh these relatively
minor considerations and especially given the disc’s bargain
CD is part of a distinguished series of chamber music recordings
from Sanctuary Classics, in which the Magginis have also recorded,
on ASV CD DCA 908, Szymanowski's First and Second String Quartets
and String Quartet No 4 by Bacewicz, earning a recommendation
from the Gramophone Good CD Guide.
There are also recordings of Schubert's other important chamber works;
the Octet by the Nash Ensemble (GLD 4005), the Trout by the
Schubert Ensemble (GLD 4000), and a four-CD set of the late
string quartets by the Lindsay Quartet, described by Gramophone
magazine as 'an obvious first choice'. All of these have received
earlier recording of Death and the
Maiden by the Lindsays on the same label is reviewed on this site (see review).
terms of recent modern recordings the Lindsays complete set
from the same series is the most obvious rival to the individual
recordings, being an authoritative collection from a leading
in search of a bargain might consider the Nimbus set of late
quartets (see review).
Maggini's playing is faster and with a less controlled sound
than the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet recording on Decca 45239262,
which I also own. This has a more polished yet more restrained
sound which lacks the infectious enthusiasm of the present performance.
The only point at which I prefer the Viennese approach is in
the last movement, where there is rather more feeling of resolution
and less of anguish and dissonance. Here I prefer the smoother
texture of the Viennese playing.
approach you consider suits Schubert's music better is a matter
of personal taste. However I have enjoyed this performance very
much. It might not be the only recording I would choose to own
of this important chamber work, but its modest price and artistic
values make it a bargain. Those with a serious interest in this
composer's chamber works may find it a welcome addition to other
recordings they may possess. Those who have enjoyed the work
in live performance in the concert hall, or perhaps accompanying
ballet, will find this a dynamic and exciting recording.
would re-iterate that this is a lively and exciting performance
of a stirring work, and a disc I have found most enjoyable.