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Janacek: String Quartets No 1-2; Dvorak / Leonskaja, Alban Berg String Quartet

Release Date: 08/19/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics Encore Catalog #: 08282   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Leos JanácekAntonín Dvorák
Performer:  Gerhard SchulzGünter PichlerThomas KakuskaValentin Erben,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alban Berg String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Leos Janácek did not compose his first string quartet until 1923, when the composer was already almost 70 years of age. His choice of the emotionally and intimately poignant medium of the string quartet was both artistically and personally motivated. Janácek was in love with a woman, Kamila Stosslova, who was nearly 40 years younger than he. The first quartet, "The Kreutzer Sonata," titled after the Tolstoy novel of the same name, was the first musical encapsulation of Janácek's feelings for Kamila. Despite its tumultuous outpouring of emotions, the first quartet is not as overtly directed at Kamila. That distinction falls on the second quartet, subtitled "Intimate Letters," which culminates in a Read more magnificently and unabashedly romantic finale. Performing these two fiendishly difficult masterpieces is the Alban Berg Quartet. Formed in 1971 and sadly dissolved in 2008 after the tragic death of violist Thomas Kakuska, the Alban Berg Quartet distinguished itself throughout its career with performances characterized by tight intonation; a warm, cohesive tone; a magnificent unity of musical vision; and deep musical and emotional understandings of the score. These two quartet recordings were originally made in the early '90s and remain among the most definitive examples available. The disc also includes the second movement of Dvorák's Op. 81 Piano Quintet. While the playing is equally superb, giving listeners only one movement definitely seems like an afterthought designed to fill disc space.

-- Mike D. Brownell, AllMusic.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 1 "Kreutzer Sonata" by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Gerhard Schulz (Violin), Günter Pichler (Violin), Thomas Kakuska (Viola),
Valentin Erben (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alban Berg String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Brno, Czech Republic 
Length: 17 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Quintet for Piano and Strings no 2 in A major, Op. 81/B 155 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Valentin Erben (Cello), Elisabeth Leonskaja (Piano), Günter Pichler (Violin),
Thomas Kakuska (Viola), Gerhard Schulz (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alban Berg String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Bohemia 
Length: 13 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Intimate letters" by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Valentin Erben (Cello), Thomas Kakuska (Viola), Günter Pichler (Violin),
Gerhard Schulz (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alban Berg String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Brno, Czech Republic 
Length: 6 Minutes 1 Secs. 

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