Album

Pavel Haas Quartet

Smetana: String Quartets No. 1 in E minor & No. 2 in D minor

Catalogue Number: SU 4172-2
Published: 17th April 2015
Genre: Chamber Music
Format: 1 CD
This album has received following awards:
  • Gramophone Award, Gramophone Magazin (2015)
  • Gramophone Editor's Choice (2015)
  • Disc of the Week, BBC Radio 3 (2015)
  • Chamber Choice, BBC Music Magazine (2015)
  • Presto Discs of 2015 (2015)
  • Presto Disc of the Week (2015)
  • Sinfini Music Best Chamber Album of the Year (2015)
  • Recording of the Month - MusicWeb International (2015)
  • *****, Classical Ear (2015)
Bedřich Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" (1876), String Quartet No. 2 in D minor (1882-83)

Pavel Haas Quartet: Veronika Jarůšková - 1st violin, Marek Zwiebel - 2nd violin, Pavel Nikl - viola, Peter Jarůšek - cello

After their Janáček quartets and their award-winning Dvořák (Gramophone Award 2011 "Recording of the Year"), the Pavel Haas Quartet have now put all their energy to the service of the music of Bedřich Smetana. Even though his chamber music is very modest in scale, each of these works can be said without exaggeration to be a foundation stone of Czech chamber music. They are personal works, often with a strong autobiographical element. He wrote both quartets towards the end of his life when he was already suffering from deafness. The first quartet, "From My Life", is programmatic: "I wanted to express musically the course of my life… The composition is almost entirely private, and so intentionally written for four instruments that should talk together - as if they were a close circle of friends - about the things that have shaped me so significantly." Quartet No. 2 seems almost to belong to the 20th century in the unconventionality of it's composition - something that greatly disturbed Smetana's contemporaries. For the Pavel Haas Quartet, Smetana's music is an obvious and clear choice, not a sudden revelation; it is "only" the concept of the music itself that is revelatory. The Quartet doesn't try to make itself stand out in some superficial, external way - it doesn't bet on extremes. It's originality comes from its efforts to penetrate to the very core of the work and from the thrilling and comprehensive way in which it achieves this. So, how does our immortal Smetana sound in the twenty-first century? You will find the answer on this stunning recording.

"From My Life" - Classic Smetana, inward-looking and timeless, as heard by the Pavel Haas Quartet.

Reviews

“in their native repertoire they are well nigh incomparable. I have not heard an account of “From My Life”…that prepares us so starkly, in its turbulent opening Allegro vivo appassionato, for its tragic outcome…And it’s hard to imagine a more compelling or harrowing take on the less frequently programmed D minor quartet.”
The Sundy Times, 3rd May 2015

“The PHQ understand absolutely the plasticity of Smetana’s vision and convey it unerringly, unshrinkingly – and in some ways even more convincingly than the Talich, which is saying something. This is extraordinarily bold playing – and they truly capture the sense that Smetana is writing symphonic quartet music.”
Gramophone 2015

Bedřich Smetana
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From my Life"
1.
Allegro vivo appassionato 07:44
2.
Allegro moderato a la polka 05:43
3.
Largo sostenuto 09:05
4.
Vivace 06:10
Bedřich Smetana
String Quartet No. 2 in D minor
5.
Allegro 05:33
6.
Allegro moderato. Andante cantabile 05:51
7.
Allegro non piú moderato, ma agitato e con fuoco 04:47
8.
Finale. Presto 02:54