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I must confess that I don't hear this as one of the "great" chamber works of all time—certainly not in the league of Beethoven's late quartets or Schubert's own String Quintet in C. Is it a matter of not having heard the right recording? Maybe, but I doubt it—I have some good ones: Italiano, Chilingirian, Pavel Haas, & Amadeus. But I'll gladly continue giving it a try every once in a while to see if my opinion changes.

Disclaimer: Schubert is one of my very favorite composers. But my great esteem for him does not rest on the strength of this work or any of his string quartets.
 

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^ I wouldn't exactly say a fun piece but I don't think Schubert was aiming at a deep investigation of death, either. This is Schubert the extrovert, the entertainer even: I hear him playing to the gallery.
Yeah that sounds right. It's a very dramatic piece. Kind of along the lines of the Erlkönig but in chamber form. Maybe we are expecting too much from it. I'm listening now to the Pavel Haas recording and rather enjoying it. That cellist tears it up. This is a recording where the performers are really digging into their strings which I think is helpful.
 

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Do you see it as a heartwrenching investigation of the psychology of death or just a fun piece? I've always got the impression that I should be hearing it as the former and come out disappointed because it seems kind of cheesy that way.
I've been thinking about it all day. Yeah, it's a loaded nickname; pretend it doesn't exist and try again-remember, Schubert himself never called it that. It's not a bad piece by any means; I really enjoyed it today. And try the Pavel Haas Quartet recording!
 
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