Resilience in the face of grief and the human spirit’s transcendent power find expression in Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 7, written soon after his first wife’s sudden death. The Schumann Quartet places the work together with the arching melodies of Schubert’s ‘Rosamunde’ Quarte.
The Schumann String Quartet is not named for Robert Schumann, nor will the Lehigh Valley audience be hearing any works by Robert Schumann. Rather, the ensemble takes the name of three brothers from the Rhineland who account for three-quarters of the decade-old quartet. Erik and Ken Schumann answer for the violins and Mark Schumann for the cello. They are joined by violist Liisa Radalu, who was born in Estonia but grew up in Germany. The ensemble has toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia and began a three-year residency at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center during the 2016-2017 season. They have worked with and learned from some of the best: the Alban Berg Quartet, Alexander Lonquich, and Menahem Pressler, among them.
The quartet won the Premier Prix at the 2013 Concours International de Quatuor a Cordes de Bordeaux, the Jürgen Ponto Foundation chamber-music prize in 2014, and—for their 2015 CD recording of Mozart, Ives, and Verdi— the Newcomer Award 2016 of the BBC Music Magazine. The quartet likes to take wild chances. “We really want to take things to extremes, to see how far the excitement and our spontaneity as a group take us,” middle brother Ken has explained. And the audience plays a part in the excitement: “A work really develops only in a live performance,” the group affirms. “That is the ‘real thing.’”
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975)
String Quartet No. 7 in F sharp minor Op. 108
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
String Quartet in A minor D804 ‘Rosamunde’