Sacconi Quartet's New Album, "Schubert Death and the Maiden and Beethoven Quartet Op.131"
Released on Orchid Classics, the album celebrates the quartet's 21st anniversary
The Sacconi Quartet has released their new album, Schubert Death and the Maiden and Beethoven Quartet Op.131, on Orchid Classics, celebrating their 21st anniversary.
To purchase and listen to the album, click here.
Schubert’s "Death and the Maiden" Quartet represents a young man grappling with mortality, resulting in some of his most hauntingly beautiful music.
Around the time Schubert worked on this piece, Beethoven was composing his late quartets, including the seven-movement String Quartet Op. 131 – the quartet Beethoven is said to have considered his greatest.
"For our 21st birthday, we wanted to make an album of some of the music that means the very most to us, and these two quartets were obvious choices. We have rehearsed them, performed them, travelled with them, literally lived with them for most of our career. They are all-consuming works of art, the epitome of human creation, which we are honored to be involved with and privileged to be able to bring to life in performance," shared the quartet.
In the Spring of 1823, Schubert was admitted to the hospital, suffering from the early stages of syphilis. Through his letters, he began to face his own mortality and during this time, he composed the D minor Quartet, completing it in 1824. A set of variations on Der Tod und das Mädchen (a song he composed in 1817) forms the slow movement, depicting despair and reflecting on youthful mortality. The work was not published until after Schubert’s death and may not have been performed before he died.
The seven movements of Op.131 were designed by Beethoven to be played with as little a break between them as possible, no longer following the traditional four-movement scheme. The first two movements form a pair, then movements three and four constitute an Introduction with Variations, a Scherzo is provided by movement five and, finally, the last two movements make a Finale with a slow Introduction.
The Sacconi Quartet writes of its relationship with these works in the album booklet: ‘For two decades and more, we have strived to bring this music to life. Music that we hold so dear to our hearts; music that we believe in, that we are passionate about; music that we are committed to sharing. We are still learning, still exploring, still discovering.’
Formed in 2001, the four founding members of the Sacconi Quartet (Ben Hancox, violin, Hannah Dawson, violin, Robin Ashwell, viola, Cara Berridge, cello) share an unwavering passion for the string quartet repertoire. They perform regularly around the world, at Europe’s major venues, in recordings, and on radio broadcasts. The Sacconi is Quartet in Association at the Royal College of Music and Quartet in Residence for the town of Folkestone. Unchanged since its inception, Sacconi is Britain’s longest-established string quartet.
The name Sacconi Quartet comes from the twentieth-century Italian luthier and restorer Simone Sacconi, whose book The Secrets of Stradivari is considered an indispensable reference for violin makers. Ben Hancox plays a 1932 Sacconi violin and Robin Ashwell a 1934 Sacconi viola, both made in New York. Hannah Dawson plays a 1927 Sacconi violin made in Rome, and Cara Berridge plays a Nicolaus Gagliano cello from 1781. Their gratitude extends to the Royal Society of Musicians and Ellen Solomon for generously providing them with these instruments.