Some extraordinarily talented figures' lives and work impressed and significantly influenced their contemporaries, yet their imprint was later effaced just like a footprint by the tide. And many years later, we are thus astonished by the rediscovery of such forgotten legacies. Josef Beneš (Joseph Benesch) was primarily referred to in period sources as a virtuoso violinist and distinguished teacher. Born in Batelov (Battelau), a village on the borderline between Bohemia and Moravia, from the age of 19 he lived in Vienna and Ljubljana, and gave concerts across Europe. During his time in Italy, he familiarised himself with Niccol? Paganini and Alessandro Rolla. He held prestigious posts (music director of the Philharmonic Society in Ljubljana, professor of the Music Academy in Vienna, first concertmaster of the Hoftheater). Few of his works have survived, with the majority of them being music Beneš wrote for his own solo performances. His final pieces, two string quartets (published in 1865 and 1871, respectively) date from the period when he no longer pursued a career as a soloist, yet all the parts require very dexterous players. Now, 150 years later, the Martinů Quartet, who have rediscovered a number of overlooked works of music (S. Taneyev, P. Eben), are evidently the first to perform the quartets, which definitely do not deserve to fall into oblivion.
Josef Beneš's quartets rediscovered - music that should also be heard today
“The Martinů Quartet plays with fine tonal qualities, and they’ve been recorded most sympathetically in the Domovina Studios. The ensemble sounds rich but not over-inflated, so kudos to producer Matouš Vlčinský and to the two recording maestri Milan Puklický and Karel Soukeník for obtaining such a lovely sound… Beneš could hardly have had a better premiere recording than this. His music is healthy, appealing and attractive, maybe showing some Mendelssohnian influences, but overall, happily fluent and aiming to please.” MusicWeb International, November 2022
“The most immediate impression I get from this music is the sheer richness and beauty of its sound. Of course, this has something to do with the superb playing of the Martinů Quartet, but the composer clearly gives the players something to work with… In addition to its tonal richness and beauty, the Martinů Quartet plays with spirit and commitment, expressive shaping, and nuance, as well as technical excellence. Its tempo choices are consistently appropriate. The sound of the recording fully conveys the ensemble’s ingratiating tonal qualities… I can enthusiastically recommend this recording to lovers of chamber music interested in exploring the unfamiliar.” Fanfare, March 2023