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Smetana: String Quartets 1 & 2; Dvorak: Sextet / Smetana Quartet

Smetana / Dvorak / Smetana Quartet
Release Date: 04/22/2003 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 7004  
Composer:  Bedrich SmetanaAntonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smetana String Quartet

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Since the 1890s, the professional string quartet has had an almost iconic significance for the Czechs. Along with such cultural big hitters as the National Theatre and the Czech Philharmonic, a number of quartets have been among the leading cultural ambassadors for their nation, none more so than the Smetana Quartet. Formed in 1945 – the conductor Václav Neumann was a founding member – the Smetana Quartet was a vital thread in Czech musical culture for over 40 years, with a legacy of great recordings and a heritage that is perpetuated in groups of a later generation such as the Skampa Quartet – the latter named after the Smetana’s viola-player.

This well-filled DVD includes a documentary about the quartet as well as
Read more performances of the two Smetana quartets and Dvorák’s lovely A major Sextet. Perhaps the producers of the disc could have looked outside the Czech repertoire since, among much else, these players were formidable interpreters of Beethoven. While the documentary includes much valuable archive footage, it might have made more of the powerful tradition from which the quartet sprang and asked questions about the difficulties faced by performers under communism. A slightly hagiographic tendency is defused by the sheer enthusiasm of the quartet players; this was a group which not only had a passionate engagement with the music it played, but a genuine scholarly engagement with the text, particularly in the editorial minefield offered by the two Janácek quartets. The Smetana and Dvorák presented here are a delight: though recorded at the end of the ensemble’s career, there is little hint of the autumnal.

-- BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in E minor, T 116 "From my life" by Bedrich Smetana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smetana String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Czech Republic 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in D minor, T 131 by Bedrich Smetana
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smetana String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882-1883; Czech Republic 
3.
Sextet for Strings in A major, Op. 48/ B 80 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smetana String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Bohemia 

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