In comparison with some composers, Schumann wrote comparatively little chamber music. - three String Quartets (Op.41), two Piano Quintets (Op. 44 and 47) and three Piano Trios (Op. 63, 80 and 110). There were also a few oddities, like the Fairy Tales for Piano, Viola and Clarinet Op.132
String Quartet No. 1, Op.41-1 (1842)
Although numbered as No. 1 of the three Op.41 quartets, in typical Schumann fashion this was actually the last to be composed. This work is not generally well regarded by the critics, being considered merely piano music written for strings, treating the four instruments as a whole with little solo work. Whilst this may be true, Schumann dispensed with the form and cliches of mid 19th century music to produce a very individual work, in my opinion a foretaste of what was to come. Make up your
1st Movement - Andante Espressivo - Allegro
2nd Movement - Scherzo (Presto) - Intermezzo
3rd Movement - Adagio
4th Movement - Presto
Piano Quintet in E flat Op.47 (1842)
The most popular of Schumann's chamber works, and my personal favourite. Criticised by some for favouring the piano, nevertheless this is fresh, exciting and inventive; Schumann at his most ebullient.
This recording, by Arthur Schnabel and the Pro Arte Quartet was made in 1934, hence the inferior sound quality - but as a performance it's up there with the best.
1st Movement - Allegro Brilliante
2nd Movement - Marcia (largamente)
3rd Movement - Scherzo (Molto Vivace)
4th Movement - Allegro, ma non Troppo
Exciting rendering of the 4th Movement on YouTube
Performed on 1/5/07 by the Rien Piano Quintet