Schumann: String Quartets Nos. 1-3

 KEY RECORDING/TOP RECOMMENDATION..."Having all three of Schuman's Opus 41 Quartets on a single Naxos disc makes a superb bargain...The Fine Arts Quartet, founded as long ago as 1946, remains a magnificent interpreter, here vividly recorded in sessions in Holland in 2006." (Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2011)

Penguin Guide

"Schuman at his best...In Schuman's repertoire I prefer the chamber music and this low cost Naxos CD of the string quartets 1-3 is an excellent choice. Naxos is a blessing for those who love classical music! "  (Moncho,, 16 April 2011)Full Review

 "My new reference recording is the Naxos CD from the Fine Arts Quartet Schumann - String Quartets Nos 1 - 3, an utterly compelling disc."  (Mark Meldon,, 30 July 2010)Full Review

"Das Fine Arts Quartet spielt diese Stücke seriös, empfunden und virtuos. Der frühromantische Charme dieser Quartette geht durch die hervorragende Aufnahme dieses zu Unrecht recht unbekannten Quartetts und die perfekte Tonqualität in keiner Weise verloren. Man spielt die Werke, wie sie sind: romantische Werke voller Pathos, Leidenschaft und Intimität." 

(Andre Arnold "Lateingott",, 6. Juli 2010)Full Review

"[An] appealing and stylishly performed release by the Fine Arts Quartet. Recorded in 2006 at the Wittem Monastery, Gulpen-Wittem, Holland, the disc is on Naxos 8.570151."  (Michael Cookson, Music Web International, May 2010)Full review

"Naxos offers a splendid bargain in the form of all three works, squeezed onto a single CD, by the Fine Arts Quartet (8.570151), which Göran Forsling made Bargain of the Month – see review – a judgement with which I am happily in accord...The playing is full of nuance and the high-spirited account of the finale sets the seal on a fine recording...The performances of other two Op.41 quartets are equally attractive." (Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International, February, 2010)Full Review

"Amerikanska ”Fine Arts Quartet” väcker förstås skyhöga förväntningar, men denna nyinspelning klargör omedelbart att bättre än så här kan det knappast bli. De tätt sammanlänkade musikerna levandegör intensivt med sina instrument: det är bara att låta sig omslutas."  

(Björn Gustavsson, Ovanmyra Missionshus blogspot, 29 januari 2010)Full Review

"Schumann wrote three [string quartets]. You can get all three on one Naxos (8.570151) CD for under $10. The Fine Arts Quartet does these wonderful works justice at a price so low we should be embarrassed not to pay more!" 

(David Holmes,, September 10, 2010)

"One of the very finest chamber-music recordings of the year" (Bender, American Record Guide, September/October 2007)

"I cannot leave the theme of chamber music without recommending the Naxos release (8.570151) of Robert Schumann's String Quartets Nos. 1-3, played so expressively by the Fine Arts Quartet. Playing of this caliber in music this wonderful makes for an outrageous bargain." (Crisis Magazine, July/August 27, 2007)

"Edge-of-the-seat playing marked by probing insights...The FAQ's intonation and balances are beyond reproach. Its ensemble is razor sharp in the quicker music, and in the slower moments its phrasing breathes naturally (no mean feat). Given the competition by such ensembles as the Emerson, Melos, and Takács Quartets, they shine. The sound of this disc is excellent, capturing the quartet's distinctive timbre and steering a judicious course between linear detail and ensemble heft and mass. In short, this is desert island stuff."

(William Zagorski, Fanfare Magazine, March 2007)Full review

"The tone, as ever with this line-up, is both beguilingly tangy and warm...The lyrical side of Schumann, which predominates in the quartets, is beautifully handled." (Tully Potter, The Strad, March 2007)

"The outstanding aspect of these performances is the quality of sound, rich and beautifully blended. With a heartfelt, expressive quality, they're able to bring out fully the lyrical side of Schumann's invention...Throughout, the tone is full and rounded, and never harsh...Their playing is elegant and singing...It's lovely quartet playing, and I'll want to return to it." 

(Duncan Druce, Gramophone, March 2007)

"...a must for any serious lover of string quartet music..." (Wholenote, Toronto, February 2007)

***** "This is one of the few CD's that have all 3 quartets on one CD and happily it is also one of the best. The playing is warm and very clear and add to this the budget price of Naxos , this is an unmissable treat."  (Ra Gannon,, February 15, 2008)

"The unanimous attack and the homogenous sound at once places this group among the elite of today's chamber music ensembles." 

(Göran Forsling , MusicWeb International, February 07, 2007)Full Review

"The gently beguiling presentation of the music by the world-class Fine Arts Quartet is executed with the introspective nuance necessary for the performance of any Schumann composition. This is an animated, invigorating recording that will satisfy both the seasoned and amateur music enthusiast." (, Feb.1, 2007)Full Review (page 27)

"IT CAN HARDLY GET BETTER THAN THIS (headline)... The American 'Fine Arts Quartet' of course raises high expectations, but this new recording makes immediately clear that it can hardly get better than this. With close rapport, the musicians perform intensively with their instruments: one can only give oneself to the music." ("Amerikanska 'Fine Arts Quartet' väcker förstås skyhöga förväntningar, men denna nyinspelning klargör omedelbart att bättre än så här kan det knappast bli. De tätt sammanlänkade musikerna levandegör intensivt med sina instrument: det är bara att låta sig omslutas.") (Tidningen Kulturen, Sweden, January 30, 2007)

"These lovingly prepared and perceptive readings from the Fine Arts Quartet, captured in lucid sound, have one re-thinking this particular body of Schumann's work with rejuvenated interest. Each work, no, each movement is a gem...Such soulful utterance is tenderly brought out by the Fine Arts Quartet, its members deft and hears, gratifyingly, many 'old-style' touches from the Fine Arts musicians...this is the sort of playing that makes one want to explore further the Fine Arts Quartet's projects...thoroughly recommendable...a release and an ensemble that is once messenger and champion of Schumann's quartet triptych." 

(Colin Anderson,, January 2007)Full Review

"Listening to the Fine Arts is impossible not to notice a certain ripeness in both their sound and approach...the voice of experience tells. They are always wise to this inventive music's ever-changing spirit, drawing the full emotional effect from the luscious expressivity of the slow movement of No. 3, yet rejoicing equally in the blatant mischief of the catchy ritornello that punctuates that work's exultant finale." (Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times [London], January 21, 2007)Full Review

Sunday Times


"The Fine Arts Quartet plays the works with sensitivity, apparent ease and a fine sense of give and take...The Quartet makes a strong case for all of them." (, Jan.18, 2007)Full Review

"As one would expect from this distinguished Quartet, the quality of the performance is very fine, creating a highly enjoyable listening experience." (Kirsty Humphrey, Stringendo, vol. 29 no. 1, 2007)

"CDs of the Year 2006: SCHUMANN The complete string quartets. Fine Arts Quartet, Naxos, 8570151. Just out! The Fine Arts Quartet was my big chamber-music revelation this year: it's that golden-age edge that I adore, the intense sweetness of first violin Ralph Evans' tone, the beauty of the close-knit sounds and the completeness of their involvement in the music - as superb as ever in Schumann's personal, subtle and sensitive quartets which, again, are never played as often as they should be." 

(Jessica Duchen's Classical Music Blog, Dec.23, 2006)Full review

5.0 out of 5 stars

"It has been extremely unusual until very recently for all three Schumann Quartets, his Op. 41, to be recorded on one CD...This is, I believe, the best of the lot...The Fine Arts one of America's best quartets...This is an outstanding set." 

(J Scott Morrison,, December 22, 2006)Full review

"These versions of the three Schumann string quartets certainly testify to the [Fine Arts] Quartet's genuine class and musical refinement." (The Guardian, December 15, 2006) 

The Guardian

"This is an excellent issue of the once neglected Schumann quartets" (Ying Chang, Musicalpointers, 2006)Full review

"Long phrases are a characteristic of the playing, the four priceless instruments sounding exquisite in the quiet and pensive passages, the slow movement and opening to the finale of the second quartet never having emerged with greater beauty. The first and second quartet's scherzos bubble with pleasure." (David's Review Corner, December 2006)Full review

"A great bargain." (Stephen Pettitt,, 2007)

"Superbly clear, honest performances of these underrecorded works by the Fine Arts Quartet. Available at awesomely cheap prices to boot." (gnirob,, 2006)Full Review