One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for Ł12 postage paid world-wide.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, B. 192 (Op. 106) [39:49]
Josef SUK (1874–1935)
Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale ‘St. Wenceslas’, Op.35 [6.54]
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
String Quartet No.1, ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ [18:28]
Wihan Quartet (Leoš Čepický, Jan Schulmeister (violins); Jakub Čepický (viola); Aleš Kaspřík (cello))
rec. Martinů Hall, Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, 30-31 May 2015
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6322 [65.17]

This is an immediately appealing disc: great Czech quartets by Dvořák, Suk, and Janáček, played by a great Czech quartet, the Wihan. By any per capita calculation, ten million Czechs surely do more than their share in producing and performing classical music to a gratifyingly high standard.

The big work on the disc is Dvořák’s string quartet, no. 13 in G, op 106. This piece is rather massive in scale for a string quartet. Some might find it too long, and overly symphonic in its ambitions but they would miss the wonderful melodies, colourful timbres and dramatic development. All these Dvořák poured into this, his penultimate string quartet. Composed immediately after his return from the United States of America, the work shares some of the spirit and scale of his last three symphonies, only pressed into the smaller form of the string quartet.

Dvořák’s quartet needs a big sound to work, which the Wihan Quartet provides, along with wonderful ensemble, sharp rhythms and forceful interpretations. The performance is large-scale, luxurious and full of high drama. It is not sentimental.

The Pavel Haas String Quartet recently recorded this work to critical acclaim. Its tempi are a bit faster, and it plays with greater urgency, sometimes making Dvořák sound a touch more neurotic than usual. That said, the Wihan’s Dvořák lacks nothing for excitement, and the occasionally slower tempo allows a clearer hearing of how Dvořák crafted those snapping rhythms. This is a warm-hearted performance, akin to the Wihan Quartet’s recent recording of Dvořák’s Piano Quintet, op. 81.

The Wihan brings an appropriate amount of neurosis to its performance of Janáček’s String Quartet 1 (“The Kreutzer Sonata”). A recording by the younger Pavel Haas String Quartet provides a touch more torment, but the Wihan’s account is creepy enough for most, full of fragmented drama over interrupted ostinatos. It also stands up well to the recent recording by the Takács Quartet, with comparably gorgeous sound.

The shortest and least familiar piece is by Josef Suk: “Meditation on the old Czech Chorale ‘St. Wenceslas’.” The chorale dates from the Thirteenth Century, shaped over the years into a prayer for intercession by the patron saint of the Czech people. Suk composed this in a burst of patriotism with the outbreak of World War I, perhaps anticipating a Czech nation finally free of Austrian rule. For a patriotic piece, it is striking for being restrained instead of militant. The Wihan offers an ethereal reading of this rather serious work.

This disc features excellent, rather close-up recorded sound. The CD booklet notes are clearly written and informative. No one who finds this combination of Dvořák, Suk, and Janáček alluring is likely to be disappointed by these carefully crafted and powerful performances.

Richard Kraus
 
Previous review: Michael Wilkinson


 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger