WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Czech String Quartets / Stamitz Quartet

Dvorak / Janacek / Smetana / Stamitz Quartet
Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 9410   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonín DvorákBedrich SmetanaLeos JanácekBohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jan PeruskaBohuslav MatousekJosef KekulaVladimir Leixner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String QuartetStamitz String Quartet members
Number of Discs: 15 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This extensive collection brings together the complete string quartets of Czech composers Antonín Dvorák, Bedrich Smetana, Leoš Janácek and Bohuslav Martinu.

Those by Dvorák chart the evolution of his style, from his interest in Wagnerian music in the years prior to 1870 -- String Quartet in D major -- to the folk-infused works of his later life, such as the String Quartet in G major Op.106, and show the influence of his time in the United States, with the String Quartet in F Op.96 'American'. The quartets of Smetana have a distinctive neo-classical flavour while those of Janácek show strong links to his operatic works. Prolific composer Bohuslav Martinu composed six quartets, of which two
Read more were mislaid during the war. One of these, his fifth string quartet, is widely considered to be one of the most pivotal works in the composer's oeuvre, written in 1938, a year of much upheaval in Martinu's life. Many of the quartets in the collection hold an emotional dimension, all of which are exquisitely brought to life by the Stamitz Quartet.

Established in 1985, the Stamitz Quartet quickly became known as leading interpreters of Czech repertory. Winners of the 1986 National Broadcasting Union Competition in Salzburg, the Quartet's rise to fame was meteoric; they have since participated in tours throughout Europe and America and undertaken a variety of recording projects, of which this collection is one.

Other information:
- Recorded between 1987 and 1993.
- For the first time together in one collection: the complete string quartets of Dvorak, Smetana, Janacek and Martinu!
- Though differing stylistically (Dvorak highly romantic and melodious, Smetana classical but deeply personal ("From My Life"), Janacek intimately speaking about love and tenderness, Martinu vibrant, colourful and exuberant), they share their Bohemian roots in a common heartfelt passion and love for the folklore of their country.
- Excellent performances by the Stamitz Quartet, "natives" with the same musical genes as the composers.
- The booklet provides extensive liner notes for each work.

R E V I E W:

Brilliant Classics has already reissued the Dvorák Quartets separately, but this new, 15-CD incarnation offers a sensible opportunity to acquire the major Czech quartet repertoire in one handy package. Originally released on the now presumably defunct Bayer label, the Stamitz Quartet’s performances took a back seat to those by the Panocha Quartet (Supraphon), and well as the Prazak Quartet (Praga), never mind individual versions by various Czech and non-Czech groups of international renown. In the Dvorák quartets, the Stamitz favored relaxed tempos, relatively speaking, and a big-boned sonority quite different from the smoother, less “resinous” timbre of the Panocha or Prazák Quartets. Compare the opening of the “American” Quartet as played by the Stamitz and Prazák ensembles, and you will note the difference immediately. It’s not a question of one being objectively “better” than the other; it’s a matter of taste, and I have to confess that these versions have grown on me over the years.

There is less to choose in the Smetana, Janácek, and Martinu quartets in terms of the group’s approach. The Janácek Quartets, for example, are not notably slower than the competition at all, and have plenty of the requisite passion while bringing out numerous textural details that other versions miss. The Martinu quartets are the least familiar among these works. His seven efforts in the medium cover a huge range, from the very “French” sounding First Quartet to the tragic Fifth, to the busy neoclassicism of the Seventh (subtitled “Concerto da camera”). While I still favor the Panocha set on Supraphon in these works for their absolutely flawless ensemble and tonal beauty, these versions are still very good and highly enjoyable in their own right.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Dvorák cycle includes the Cypresses, the Terzetto, and various singleton quartet movements, while the Martinu cycle offers the Duo No. 1 “Three Madrigals” and the String Trio No. 2. The sonics are of consistently high quality, and flatter the ensemble. A smart collection.

– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in A major, Op. 2/B 8 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Bohemia 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in B flat major, B 17 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1870; Bohemia 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 5 in F minor, Op. 9/B 37 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Bohemia 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 6 in A minor, Op. 12/B 40 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; Bohemia 
5.
Quartet for Strings no 7 in A minor, Op. 16/B 45 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Bohemia 
6.
Quartet for Strings no 9 in D minor, Op. 34/B 75 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Bohemia 
7.
Quartet for Strings no 10 in E flat major, Op. 51/B 92 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Bohemia 
8.
Quartet for Strings no 11 in C major, Op. 61/B 121 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Bohemia 
9.
Quartet for Strings no 8 in E major, Op. 80/B 57 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
10.
Quartet for Strings no 12 in F major, Op. 96/B 179 "American" by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; USA 
11.
Quartet for Strings no 14 in A flat major, Op. 105/B 193 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; Bohemia 
12.
Quartet for Strings no 13 in G major, Op. 106/B 192 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; Bohemia 
13.
Movement for String Quartet in F major, B 120 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Bohemia 
14.
Quartet for Strings no 3 in D major, B 18 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1870; Bohemia 
15.
Quartet for Strings no 4 in E minor, B 19 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; Bohemia 
16.
Cypresses for String Quartet, B 152 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Bohemia 
17.
Andante appasionato for String Quartet in A minor by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1873; Bohemia 
18.
Terzetto for 2 Violins and Viola in C major, Op. 74/B 148 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet,  Stamitz String Quartet members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Bohemia 
19.
Waltzes (2) for String Quartet, Op. 54/B 105 by Antonín Dvorák
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Bohemia 
20.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in E minor, T 116 "From my life" by Bedrich Smetana
Performer:  Jan Peruska (Viola), Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Josef Kekula (Violin),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Czech Republic 
21.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in D minor, T 131 by Bedrich Smetana
Performer:  Vladimir Leixner (Cello), Jan Peruska (Viola), Josef Kekula (Violin),
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882-1883; Czech Republic 
22.
Quartet for Strings no 1 "Kreutzer Sonata" by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Josef Kekula (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Brno, Czech Republic 
23.
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Intimate letters" by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Vladimir Leixner (Cello), Jan Peruska (Viola), Josef Kekula (Violin),
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Brno, Czech Republic 
24.
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Josef Kekula (Violin), Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Czech Republic 
25.
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Josef Kekula (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; France 
26.
Quartet for Strings no 3 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Josef Kekula (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; France 
27.
Quartet for Strings no 4 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Josef Kekula (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola), Vladimir Leixner (Cello),
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
28.
Quartet for Strings no 5 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Bohuslav Matousek (Violin), Josef Kekula (Violin), Jan Peruska (Viola),
Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; France 
29.
Quartet for Strings no 6 by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Vladimir Leixner (Cello), Jan Peruska (Viola), Josef Kekula (Violin),
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
30.
Quartet for Strings no 7 "Concerto da Camera" by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Vladimir Leixner (Cello), Jan Peruska (Viola), Josef Kekula (Violin),
Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stamitz String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
31.
Madrigals (3) for Violin and Viola by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jan Peruska (Viola), Bohuslav Matousek (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; Czech Republic 
32.
Trio for Viola, Violin and Cello by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Jan Peruska (Viola), Josef Kekula (Violin), Vladimir Leixner (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Treasure Trove September 19, 2013 By E. Barnes (Dunn Loring, VA) See All My Reviews "When Arkiv first offered this set, I leapt to get my copy. Reason was, I knew the Stamitz Quartet, and I already owned one of the Dvorak CDs. (I had heard them once in Germany and bought that initial CD on the spot after the concert.) The Dvorak Quartets are not particularly ground-breaking (but then neither is the composer's Cello Concerto), but they are filled to the brim with good music, tightly constructed with attractive melodies and harmonies. And those wonderful moments of pleasure begin right with the first quartet and go right on through. As with the CD with which I was already familiar, the Stamitz Quartet gave every note their all, from affirming the structure to milking the more tender passages. Likewise the two Smetana quartets received heartfelt and compelling performances, broad enough to let the music breathe but tight enough to keep things moving. The two Janacek quartets were given as good a performance as I have yet heard, again with the music taking charge over the tendency of many performers to succumb to the temptation to play some passages over-violently. The passion is there certainly, but as the cliche goes, the music speaks for itself. The seven Martinu quartets were among the chief surprises of the set. The Stamitz make a great case for these relatively compact little adventures, and they beg to be replayed multiple times. I always wondered at Copland's curt dismissal of Martinu, and this music makes an even stronger case for Martinu's genius (than the orchestral music). One other thing, the digital sound is exemplary -- perfectly microphoned and well-balanced. Not all Brilliant box sets are brilliant. But this one is." Report Abuse
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In