The Camerata Quartet, founded in 1984, is a leading Polish chamber music ensemble. The quartet has performed throughout Europe, in America and Asia, and has participated in a number of international festivals. They have produced 25 records, with their album featuring works by Schubert, proclaimed Record of the Year 1995, by Studio magazine. The group also received the Diapason d’Or, from Diapason magazine in 1994, the Sforzando award, from Crescendo magazine in 1995, and the Pizzicato Supersonic Award, in Luxembourg in 2009. Additionally, in 1991, the Quartet received the Stanisław Wyspiański Award and in 1999 received the Fryderyk award in the category of Chamber Music for their recording of The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. In 2004, the ensemble members received the Badge of Merit for Service to Culture by the Minister of Culture and in 2009 they were awarded the Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture, Gloria Artis. The members of the quartet have been organising winter courses for string quartets in Gorlice, since 1992 and in 2003 the Camerata Quartet founded the Polish Society of Chamber Music.
Arnold Schönberg composed his String Quartet in D major in Vienna in the summer of 1897. The piece was initially given a private performance at an evening of the Wiener Tonkünstlerverein in March of 1898 and the public premiere, performed by the Fitzner Quartet, took place at the Bösendorfersaal of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in December. The work, however, was not published until 1966 after the composer’s death.
Schönberg, largely self-taught, relied heavily on his friend, Alexander Zemlinsky, and in response to Zemlinsky's criticism, there is evidence that he extensively revised the D Major Quartet. Zemlinsky showed an early draft of the quartet to Johannes Brahms, who seemed to approve as Schönberg’s first effort which had many similarities to both Brahms and Zemlinsky’s own compositions. Eventually, both the first and last movements were considerably rewritten and a new movement was composed in place of the original second movement. The original second movement survives, however, as a Scherzo in F Major, for which the manuscript is dated July 27, 1897, at the beginning and August 7, 1897, at the end. Both the D Major Quartet and the F Major Scherzo exemplify the most successful instrumental works of Schönberg's Brahmsian period. Additionally, the variation movement in itself stands as Schönberg's finest achievement within the Brahms chamber music tradition and the D Major Quartet is the composer’s last work that falls directly into that tradition. It was during this period that Schönberg named Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Dvořák as his principal models.
String Quartet No. 2, composed between March 1907 and August 1908, is one of the pivotal works of musical modernism. The final movement marks the primary point from which Western art music moved from a tonally based harmonic structure to an atonal harmonic structure. After the Second Quartet, Schönberg, followed by his pupils and then much of Western music, abandoned tonality in favour of harmonic structure. It is thought that the emotional sequence of the last movement is autobiographical. During its composition, Mathilda, Schönberg’s wife, left him and their children for the painter Richard Gerstle. She did return, urged by Anton Webern, which instigated the suicide of Gerstle by hanging. Consequently, Mathilda, excessively affected by the death of her lover, lost her own sanity and had to be placed in an institution where she remained until her death.
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator