is, I believe, an important release. The Artemis Quartet presents
what is essentially a revisionist approach to Dvořák, moving
the composer’s music far closer than usual to the Janáček
also featured here. Indeed, the word ‘revisionist’ crops up
in Anthony Short’s excellent booklet notes with regard to Michael
Beckermann; presumably referring to the book, ‘Dvořák
and his World’. With youth on its side, the Artemis Quartet
is perfectly placed to inject renewed vigour into Dvořák’s
output. The players lay into their task with zeal, while the
upfront recording seems to emphasise the interpretative stance.
Dvořák of this recording positively buzzes with life. There
is little of the slackness of pulse so associated with lyrical
contrasts – even the more modernist elements in the first movement
the above, it follows logically that the Adagio ma non troppo
will become an intense experience, as indeed it does. Almost
anguished in its outpouring, it leads to the almost manic ‘Molto
vivace’ - now Dvořák sounds exploratory - before a
finale presents the boundless energy of youth. If the Vlach
Quartet on Supraphon remains my clear recommendation in
this work, the Artemis now becomes the modern version to have.
it is that on a straight play-through the Janáček
is a logical extension of the Dvořák. Yet even here the modernist elements are foregrounded,
from the ghostly, spooky passages to the sheer frenzy of the
contrastive outbursts. The rustic dance of the finale gives
way to unashamedly harsh moments that are almost reminiscent
of the white noise of electronic music! Anthony Short again
puts his finger on it when he says this quartet is ‘of a stature
equal to the finest quartets of Bartók’. The performance here
is rightly disturbing at times.
is a remarkable release. It is not often one is made to think
of standard repertoire in a new way, but that is exactly what
this one forces one to do. The recording is rather close, befitting
the intensity of experience the players provide.