Magazine article Strings

Czech It Out

Magazine article Strings

Czech It Out

Article excerpt

CZECH IT OUT

Music@Menlo drawns inspiration from Dvorak and other Czechoslovakian composers

Once again, Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival founders and artistic directors cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han have released a set of splendidly recorded live performances to commemorate the prior year's festival.

For 2014, celebrating Dvorak and other Czech composers, the nine CDs are so comprehensive that you can replicate the concerts by rearranging the tracks.

There are many highlights:

The Danish Quartet (violinists Frederik Øand and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violist Asbjørn Nørgaard, and cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin), who bill themselves as "your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard," illuminate Beethoven's Quartet Op. 74, "The Harp." The Escher Quartet (violinists Adam Barnett-Hart and Aaron Boyd, violist Pierre Lapointe, and cellist Dane Johansen), without beards, score with a wonderfully warm, wise, and occasionally wild performance of Dvorak's Quartet Op. 51.

Finckel, Han, violinists Alexander Sitkovetsky, and Nicolas Dautricourt, and violist Paul Neubauer vanquish the ensemble challenges of Dohnanyi's thorny Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 1, and produce absorbing music as if the composer were sitting at the piano improvising with close friends.

The gauntly elegant performance Dautricourt leads of Erwin Schulhoff's charcoal String Sextet, presaging the Nazi death camps in which Schulhoff would die in 1942, contrasts to a lush reading of Bartok's Divertimento led by Erin Keefe. …

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