Schubert: String Quartets Nos. 10, 12 & 14; String Trio D.471; String Quintet
Vienna Philharmonic Quartet
Catalogue No.

In the final years of his brief life, Franz Schubert wrote some of the greatest chamber music in the literature. Yet these masterpieces, including three string quartets and a string quintet, remained virtually unknown for a quarter of a century after his birth. It was only when Josef Hellmesberger began his subscription quartet concerts at the Wiener Musikverein in 1849 that Schubert’s true stature began to be appreciated so that people no longer saw him as a kind of amiable Biedermeier figure, scribbling songs on table napkins or scraps of paper but as a major composer. This 2CD set, issued as part of a survey of the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet’s Decca recordings, include the familiar ‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet, the little ‘Quartettsatz’ and the sublime String Quintet (with cellist Richard Harand). These recordings have historic significance, as the last gasp of a Viennese style of string playing in Schubert which stemmed from before World War II. All, except for D.810, make their first international appearance on CD. This recording of the String Quintet was, incidentally, chosen by Sir Colin Davis on BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’.


String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D.810 ‘Death and the Maiden’
String Quartet No. 10 in E flat major, D.87
String Quartet No. 12 in C minor, D.703 ‘Quartettsatz’
String Trio in B flat major, D.471
String Quintet in C major, D.956*

Vienna Philharmonic Quartet
Richard Harand, cello*

Recording information

Recording Producers: Erik Smith (String Quartets Nos. 10 &14, String Trio, String Quintet); John Culshaw (String Quartet No. 12)
Balance Engineer: Gordon Parry
Recording Location: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, 29 October 1962 (String Quartet No. 12), 8–9 April 1963 (String Quartets Nos. 10 &14), 16–19 March 1964 (String Trio, String Quintet)


‘easily the best version available in stereo … the Vienna players produce the expected golden tone quality, and the first movement in particular is a joy all through … tremendous’ (String Quintet) Gramophone

‘the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet have the loveliest warm tone quality; their soft playing is a joy … Strongly recommended’ (Quartettsatz) Gramophone

‘There are some lovely things in the two inner movements; the elegiac decorative variations bring out the best in the Vienna Philharmonic Quartet … and the Trio of the Scherzo is beautifully thrown of (‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet) … The E flat Quartet […] gets exactly the right kind of performance’ (D.87) Gramophone