Magazine article Strings

Smetana: The Two Quartets

Magazine article Strings

Smetana: The Two Quartets

Article excerpt

Smetana: The Two Quartets

Pavel Haas Quartet

(Supraphon)

This new recording of Smetana's two string quartets by the Pavel Haas Quartet (violinists Veronika Jarúáková and Marek Zwiebel, violist Pavel Niki, and cellist Peter Jarûsek) sets new standards for comprehensively encompassing the music's full emotional measure.

In String Quartet No. 1 in E minor ("From My Life"), the interpretive temperature and tone are set by a tremendous, plangent opening chord followed by ominous rustling in the violins stretching endlessly until the violist announces the first big melody-the performance ends with a magical last 30 bars, casual, elegant, precise and moving.

The intensity continues throughout, as if the quartet had discovered the music in a dusty library and was overcome by the huge size and majesty of Smetana's inspiration crying out in beauty and pain across the centuries. …

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