Magazine article Czech Music

Pavel Haas Quartet: Smetana

Magazine article Czech Music

Pavel Haas Quartet: Smetana

Article excerpt

Pavel Haas quartet


Pavel Haas Quartet: Veronika Jaruskova, Marek Zwiebel--violin, Pavel Niki--viola, Peter Jarusek--cello.

Text: English, German, French, Czech. Recorded: 2014/11+12, Studio Domovina, Prague. Released: 2015/4. TT: 47:47. 1 CD Supraphon SU 4172-2.


New Pavel Haas Quartet releases are closely observed events in the Czech and, perhaps even more so, Anglo-Saxon cultural worlds. The ensemble have garnered numerous accolades for their recordings, as was also the case of the two previous albums, featuring Antonin Dvorak's string quartets and Franz Schubert's String Quartet in D minor "Death and the Maiden" and the String Quintet in C major. With copious media support, great, and richly deserved, attention is currently being drawn to their most recent project, a CD with Bedrich Smetana's String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2. Even though the two pieces have long ceased to be the intellectual property of Czech quartet ensembles, they have to date mainly been coupled on albums of Czech provenience. The Pavel Haas Quartet indisputably possess enough courage, as well as self-confidence, not to loiter but plunge into the canonical works of Czech quartet music and present them to the listeners from the current interpretational perspective. Following two Janacek quartets and Dvorak's quartets in F major and G major, they have this time focused on Smetana's quartets, evidently the most set in stone when it comes to interpretation, as Dvorak's quartets have been performed globally since the very time of their coming into being and Janafiek's quartets call for singular interpretation owing to their very essence. The Pavel Haas Quartet's new Smetana album is far from being a conservative, genuflectory project, with the very opposite being the case, even though I would not have minded a little greater adherence to the interpretative tradition. They play the quartets ferociously (beware of the first chord of Quartet No.1!), with a sharp accentuation, emphatic rhythm, a sense for emancipation of the middle parts, bold dynamic differences, and vivid, though not exceedingly speedy, tempos (a number of ensembles, the Panocha Quartet In particular, play Quartet No. …

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