William Schuman: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 5

Harmonia Mundi: HMU 907114 (out of print)

"The shamefully neglected string quartets of William Schuman are revived here in all their forward thinking, astringent glory by the Lydian Quartet. Schumann's music, like that of fellow American composer Aaron Copland, has a larger-than-life quality that benefits from the warm romanticism of the Lydian. These performances are full of verve and impact, especially the tense, powerful Quartet No. 2, the best of this collection. The Lydian Quartet plays beautifully here, with a precision and involvement marking them as among the world's best quartets. The fire and intricacy of Schumann's writing is elegantly juxtaposed by the elegant lyricism of his slow movements, showcased by the Lydian. Also enhancing the majesty of this disc is the nigh-perfect recording quality from Harmonia Mundi. Combined with warm reverberations of the recording location, the natural quality of the sound places you there with the Lydian. An impeccable performance of the acclaimed Quartet No. 3, combined with the strong performances of the previously unavailable Quartets No. 2 and 5, make this wild-eyed recommendation automatic." Kevin M. Williams, Chicago Sun-Times

"William Schuman was the leading mover and shaker in the world of American musical politics - the guiding force behind the Juilliard School of Music and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for decades. But we are in danger of forgetting that he was a first-rate composer as well. A new CD of three of his string quartets (Harmonia Mundi France 907114) brims over with the rousing energy that marks Mr. Schuman's symphonies. The Quartet No. 5, written at age 77, is a masterpiece as spiritual as anything in late Beethoven, and the Lydian String Quartet plays it commandingly." Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News

"Schuman wrote five string quartets but withdrew his first. The three recorded here span a half century -- from 1937 to 1987 -- and reveal an immediate and creative grasp of the medium. The Lydian String Quartet performs with vigor, each voice clean and bright and the overall ensemble balanced on an immaculate Harmonia Mundi compact disc." Kurt Loft, Tampa Tribune

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