Dvorak * Bartok * Dohnanyi: Bartok String Quartet No 2, Op 17 Sz67

By Cowan, Rob | Gramophone, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Dvorak * Bartok * Dohnanyi: Bartok String Quartet No 2, Op 17 Sz67


Cowan, Rob, Gramophone


Bartok String Quartet No 2, Op 17 Sz67 Dohnanyi String Quartet No 3, Op 33 Dvorak String Quartet No 12, 'American', Op 96 B179 Modigliani Quartet Mirare (F) MIR269 (80 * DDD)

Dvorak * Schulhoff * Suk

'Alla Czeca' Dvorak String Quartet No 13, Op 106 B192 Schulhoff Funf Stucke Suk Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale 'St Wenceslaus', Op 35a Signum Quartet Capriccio (F) C5257 (56' * DDD) 61664-3

Context is the principal factor that links these two programmes, with Dvorak as the common linchpin: an overwhelming musical presence in the case of the Signum Quartet's 'Alla Czeca' programme, a prompt for musical nationalism for Quatuor Modigliani--though Dohnanyi's post-Romantic Third Quartet, poised somewhere in the midst of Brahms, Komgold and Strauss, is quite different to the moody extremes of Bartok's Second Quartet.

The latter opens to a yearning harmonic blur, with a driven second-movement scherzo (its muted coda anticipating the evocative 'night music' episodes of Bartok's maturity), and a slow finale where sullen, slow-burning climaxes cast a purposeful glance in the direction of the much later Divertimento for strings. Quatuor Modigliani maintain the tension without excessive intensity, focusing Bartok's style with ease, although I would have welcomed a touch more seduction in the second movement's Trio, where Bartok coyly tosses a mock-sentimental ballade between the instrument (from 3'52" into tr 6).

While Bartok's Second Quartet occasionally looks forwards to his work from the 1930s, Dohnanyi's Op 33 casts an ear back to his Op 10 String Trio. …

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