53,454 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 ‘Death and the Maiden’ [38:17]
String Quartet No. 8 in B flat major, D112 [29:02]
Wiener Konzerthaus Quartet
rec. live, 16 September 1943, Mozart Saal, Vienna (D810), 23 February 1953, Studio RFT, Paris (D112)
MELOCLASSIC MC4004 [67:20]

The Weiner Konzerthaus Quartet, formed in January 1934, was the brainchild of Anton Kamper (1st Violin) and Erich Weiss (viola), both principals in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. They promptly enlisted Karl Maria Titze on second violin and Franz Kwarda on cello. There was a chemistry between all four from the start, and in March of that year the new group performed in public for the first time. This led to a broadcast of Franz Schmidt’s String Quartet. They were successfully launched! In the mid to late thirties all four players transferred to the Vienna Philharmonic and became known as the Wiener Konzerthaus Quartet, giving a subscription series each season for the Konzertgesellschaft in the Mozart Saal. Their first series included the Bruckner Quintet as part of a Bruckner Festival, for which they were joined by Karl Stumpf on second viola. They began to tour, visiting Britain in 1950 and appearing at London’s Wigmore Hall.

Their golden decade was undoubtedly the fifties. Eventually, the original line up began to disperse when Kwarda developed rheumatism and Ludwig Beinl stepped into the breach. Titze was replaced by Walter Weller in 1960, and Weiss died in 1962, with Franz Handschke taking his place. Kamper ultimately retired in 1968.

The two broadcast airings here, set down 10 years apart, feature the original line up in performances of two Schubert quartets. The group recorded a complete Schubert quartet cycle which has been reissued by Preiser Records. Listening to these radio versions, it’s evident that they have these works fully at their fingertips, and have a natural empathy for this music. I was amazed at how modern they sound, their playing devoid of those ‘expressive’ portamentos that were fashionable at the time. Their Death and the Maiden is exceptionally fine. The beginning is intensely dramatic, with the opening gestures making a striking impact. The players invest the music with drama and energy. The slow movement, a theme and variations on a Schubert song which lends its name to the work, is intimate and ravishingly played. There’s profound sadness in the theme, and this melancholy spills over into the variations which follow. The Scherzo provides some rhythmic contrast, with the finale driven and dispatched with scintillating panache. The early and lesser-known String Quartet No. 8 in B flat major provides a suitable contrast. Light hearted and full of youthful exuberance, its slow movement’s ‘Mozartian’ feel is here addressed with elegance and refinement.

These well-preserved documents have been ably restored and emerge with warmth and intimacy. Tully Potter’s authoritative annotations make for a fascinating read. I see that Scribendum have recently released the ensemble’s commercial discography on 22 CDs. On the back of this delightful release I’m tempted to explore further.

Stephen Greenbank



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger