RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809)
String Quartet in G minor The Rider Op.74 No. 3, Hob. III: 74/3 [21:19]
Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847)
String Quartet in F minor Op. 80 [28:53]
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn St. Wenceslas op. 35 [6:34]
Graffe Quartet (Štĕpán Graffe (violin I), Lukáš Bednařík (violin II), Lukáš Cybulski (viola), Michal Hreňo (cello))
rec. Church of St John The Baptist, Vlasatice, 13-14 June, 7 November 2009. DDD
STUDIO MATOUS MK 0807 [57:07]
One composer from each of three consecutive centuries - that seems to be the pattern. The Brno based Graffe Quartet have thought about a satisfying playing sequence - too short for a recital - and emulated it on disc. We have the touchingly inventive wit of Haydn contrasted with the evolved romance of Mendelssohn and the
In The Rider Quartet Haydn’s emotional intelligence is fully engaged with by the Graffe players. Charm and concision are the order of the day. The playing is supple and mercury-heeled matched with adroit tempo choices throughout. The Largo assai positively glows in its exploration of the quietest dynamics. Mendelssohn’s F minor quartet is his Sixth and his last. Fully mature it sports the hallmarks of the great Mendelssohn of the Octet and the Violin Concerto. Though the Haydn is remarkably personal and sensitive the Mendelssohn achieves this with even greater effect. This is music the romance of which has the capacity to move. The Graffe communicate these qualities with considerable power especially in the Allegro assai (II) while the tender Adagio also reaches out to the listener in eloquence and understatement. The hooded ambivalence of the finale combines tension with the romance of the E minor violin concerto.
Suk’s Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn - St. Wenceslas requires and is accorded sustained concentration. It may perhaps have stood as the unacknowledged exemplar for Barber’s Adagio - also originally for string quartet. Vaughan Williams’ string writing in On Wenlock Edge may also have been influenced by this superb work. There are some wonderfully golden playing here with transcendent sounds setting off an arching emotional charge. The cello and the viola sound at times - as at 3:37 - nothing short of harvest aureate.
The playing is amongst the most sheerly beautiful I have heard from any string quartet and by rights Classic FM should be playing the Suk Meditation every day for a year. I trust that these players will soon look to record the two quartets each by Suk and Smetana as well as other treasures from the Czech and Slovak 20th century.
The playing is amongst the most sheerly beautiful I have heard from any string quartet.