The Pavel Haas Quartet, one of the very finest chamber ensembles of the present time, earned for their first two CDs (Janáček, Pavel Haas) numerous prestigious accolades (Classic FM Gramophone Award, BBC Music Magazine Award, Cannes MIDEM Classical Award, etc.). With the Prokofiev pieces featured on this album the Quartet has for the first time entered the field of the Russian (or, if you will, international) repertoire.
Prokofiev plunged into writing his first quartet in 1930 during his first sojourn in America on the basis of a commission from the Library of Congress inWashington DC. The "classically" sounding work blends the easily distinguishable inspiration by Beethoven's quartets and the typically Prokofievian pungency and lyricism. The duet, written in Paris, is an inconspicuous yet masterly small-scale work of art and alongside Bartok's 44 violin duets ranks among the paramount opuses of this genre. The second quartet came into being in 1941 in the Caucasus, where the Soviet government had moved the artistic elites and their families so as to protect them against the Nazi onslaught. Here Prokofiev came across untouched folk material which he sensitively, humbly and with the precise degree of artistic stylisation incorporated into the "Kabardinian" quartet. Their sheer musicality and ferocious youthful energy make the Pavel Haas Quartet an ideal interpreter of these gems of Prokofiev's chamber oeuvre.
“Prokofiev's Second Quartet is one of the most immediately attractive quartets in the repertoire. In the wondrous Adagio the cello line rises high, ghostly melodic statements in octaves can expose the smallest tuning difficulties and pizzicati needs must sparkle like ice. The young players pass every test before dispatching the inventive finale with equal aplomb… The strenuously wrought First Quartet comes off just as well. The concluding Andante… is rarely tackled with the passion you find here. Of the small clutch of „classic“ performances of the component pieces, none is more usefully programmed than the present disc, nor so naturally recorded. Why hesitate?” Gramophone, March 2010
“…a performance of tremendous musical energy: robust, well characterised and exact.” The Independent on Sunday, 17th January 2010
“Beautifully performed … fierce intensity and fierce clarity go hand in hand.” The Sunday Times, 31st January 2010
“Their tone is large, quasi-orchestral. They take risks; often they play fast. Above all, they play with passion…Semi-quavers scurry, all sinews showing. Fortissimo attacks blast your socks off…Gloriously invigorating and a great antidote to the winter blues.” The Guardian, 29th January 2010
“Their strident physicallity is the perfect foil for Prokofiev's wartime Second Quartet, with its defiant adoption of gutsy Kabardian folk material. But the First Quartet's neoclassical delicacies allow the quartet some melting moments before they hit the manic Finale with punk intensity.” Classic FM, April 2010
“There is a fairly high level of intensity in these Prokofiev works for the young Czech players to meet, and they rise vividly to the challenge…it's probably right that [they] feel its ebb and flow with passionate engagement.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2010
“This is a great disc… The Pavel Haas Quartet, in the best Czech tradition, has the ability to play with a maximum of rhythmic energy without a shred of timbral crudity… Ideally warm, clear, well-balanced engineering flatters the performances, making this disc an essential addition to any Prokofiev collection.” ClassicsToday.com, April 2010
“Faszinierend ist der Zugriff, lebendig, packend, rhythmisch kraftvoll und mit spannungsgeladenen Pausen, aber doch auch ganz besonders fein, wenn es darum geht, die vielen Nuancen der Musik darzustellen. Nicht nur hiervon kündet gleich der Kopfsatz des h-Moll-Quartetts, sondern auch von der außerordentlichen instrumentalen Balance, die das Ensemble zwischen homogenem Gesamtklang und den Erfordernissen immer wieder solistisch hervortretender Instrumente entfaltet.” Klassik.com, April 2010