Founded in 1982, the
Vlach Quartety Prague is successor to
the famous Vlach Quartet (led by Josef
Vlach, the present first violin’s father).
The quartet won the International String
Quartet Competition in 1985 (Portsmouth)
and went on to win the prize of the
Czech Society for Chamber Music in 1991.
All four members of the Quartet are
members of the Czech Chamber Orchestra.
credentials then, and they do not fail
to deliver. The first in the programme
is, indeed, Dvořák’s first essay
in this hallowed medium, written in
1862 but unperformed until 1888, whence
the present revised version hails, and
unpublished until 1948. But do not let
the early date put you off - actually
it is a work of confidence, with the
composer’s individual voice all but
intact. The Vlach Quartet responds to
Dvořák’s language with gusto and
an innate sense of style so that there
is hardly a doubt about the worth
of this music. Technically, as their
competition victories would imply, they
are excellent, in particular Vlachová’s
deliver of some tricky violin lines.
But they are just as fine in the pastoral-Czech
slow movement (‘Andante affetuoso ed
appassionato’) or the gently-shifting
Scherzo; note the nice, grainy sound
to the lower part of Vlachová’s
Of the four movements,
the finale meanders most, but the Vlach
Quartet does actually give it all its
The Sixth Quartet is
heard here in the composer’s revision,
completed by Jaromil Burgmeister; not
all of the revised version survives.
It is a delightful work, though, opening
with a lovely mezza-voce from all concerned.
This work offers a more varied landscape
than Op. 2, with exemplary instrumental
interplay in the second movement (Poco
allegro) and a truly heart-warming slow
movement (‘Poco adagio’).
The finale is more
exploratory in nature than the rest
of the music on this disc, much more
laid back in character, too, than its
of ‘Allegro molto’ implies. If the Vlach
Quartet had been more aware of the possible
cumulative effect of Dvořák’s rhythmic
repetitions, this would have been an
even more satisfying performance. As
it stands, it is nevertheless a thoroughly
The recording is not
over-warm but detail is exemplary.
see also review
by Jonathan Woolf