of two wonderful quartets here.
The Dvorak G major
demonstrates immediately the richness
of the Vlach Quartet's sound even through
the constraints of a somewhat abrasive
recording. More, there is an intrinsically
Czech approach – interpretatively as
well as in terms of sound – that lends
real authenticity to this performance.
Perhaps this is manifested most strongly
in the elasticity of tempo. The basic
pulse is never violated, yet maneuvers
around it are negotiated with perfect
The Adagio is almost
whispered at its outset, blossoming
into radiant light at around 1'10. The
composer's textural mastery is astonishing
as the Vlach Quartet ensures the music
grows inevitably in intensity. To balance,
the tenderness at around 8'40 - ultra-tender
first violin – Josef Vlach – underpinned
by gently throbbing cello - is most
touching. Chords are balanced in masterly
Yet the Vlach can dance
too, as evinced by the third movement.
One can hear the composer stretching,
relaxing, in the finale with some delightful
pizzicato play around two minutes in.
The rhythms drive the music along infectiously.
quartet is in the bleak key of E flat
minor, an area that the Vlach Quartet
seems to have no problems attuning to,
yet they revel in the light, too. There
is a gorgeous long-breathed melody against
pizzicato accompaniment in the first
movement that is simply magnificent
(just after the one minute mark). The
feeling this time is of an intrinsically
Tchaikovskian expanse, uneasily shifting
for the first movement's duration.
If the allegro vivo
e scherzando is sprightly within the
confines of the first movement, intensity
is never very far away and surfaces
regularly. Intensity, though, is at
its height in the 'Andante funebre e
doloroso, ma con moto' slow movement.
The quartet's control is mind-boggling,
but it is the angst that moves. This
is almost painful to listen to, like
listening in on someone's black confessions.
The finale miraculously combines great
energy with gravity.
both. A must for all lovers of great