Antonín Dvořák: Piano Quintet No. 2, Op. 81 & String Quintet Op. 97

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Recording of the Month
BBC Music Magazine (2017)

Audio samples

Antonín Dvořák: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 81 (B. 155)

01. Allegro, ma non tanto
02. Dumka. Andante con moto
03. Scherzo (Furiant). Molto vivace
04. Finale. Allegro

Antonín Dvořák: String Quintet in E flat major, Op. 97 (B. 180)

01. Allegro non tanto
02. Allegro vivo
03. Larghetto
04. Finale. Allegro giusto

Album information

SU4195-2, release date 20. 10. 2017

The Pavel Haas Quartet, joined by violist Pavel Nikl, certainly capture his reflective mood in the introduction to the first movement, but they also secure a sure-footed balance between tenderness and giddy celebration. Equally impressive is the scherzo in which the exuberant ‚hoedown‘ of the main section contrasts with a magically beautiful performance of the trio. Throughout the slow movement, the playing of the solo lines is captivating and the finale is both sophisticated in delivery while communicating irrepressible energy.

BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2017

Seven years after they triumphed with Dvořák's quartets (SU 4038-2, op. 96 "American" and op. 106 - Gramophone Award "Recording of the Year"), Pavel Haas Quartet are back to Dvořák. For the occasion of recording his quintets, they have invited two guests: the pianist Boris Giltburg (winner of 2013 Queen Elizabeth Competition), as well as one of the PHQ founding members, violist Pavel Nikl. Antonín Dvořák composed his Piano Quintet No. 2 while staying at his beloved summer house in Vysoká in the late summer of 1887. The renowned critic Eduard Hanslick responded to its performance in Vienna enthusiastically: "It is one of his most beautiful works. A genuine Dvořák." The String Quintet op. 97 , albeit only six years younger, presents a completely "different Dvořák". After the Symphony from the New World and the "American" quartet, the string quintet is the composer's third work written in America. Besides drawing inspiration from the music of the Native American tribe of the Iroquois which he heard in Spillville in the summer of 1893, he built the third movement around a theme that he had previously considered using in a proposal for a new American anthem. And Hanslick's testimonial? "This is probably the simplest, most natural and happiest music composed since Haydn's times. The ear enjoys it with an easy-going attitude and the spirit is not bored for a single moment." Pavel Haas Quartet is at home in Dvořák's music - to quote the Sunday Times, "In this repertoire, they are simply matchless today."

The brilliant, Technicolor recordings of the Pavel Haas Quartet have won it an impressive array of awards since its inception in 2002. More will surely follow for this latest excursion into the works of Dvořák. The playing is breathtakingly good, each performer maintaining their own personality and yet working together to conjure a special magic, whether in the sparkling “furiant” of the piano quintet No 2 in A major, Op 81 (with Boris Giltburg at his most mercurial), or the dreamy, song-like opening movement of the string quintet in E flat major, Op 97, redolent of the wide-open spaces of rural Iowa. Highly recommended.

THE GUARDIAN, OCTOBER 2017

Other albums

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Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life" & String Quartet No. 2 in D minor

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Franz Schubert: String Quartet No. 14 in D minor „Death and the Maiden“ & String Quintet in C major

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Antonín Dvořák: String Quartet in G major, Op. 106 & String Quartet in F major, Op. 96 "American"

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Sergei Prokofiev: String Quartets Nos 1 & 2, Sonata for Two Violins

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Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 1 "Kreutzer Sonata" & Pavel Haas: String Quartets Nos 1 & 3

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Leoš Janáček: String Quartet No. 2 "Intimate Letters" & Pavel Haas: String Quartet No. 2 "From the Monkey Mountains"

Complete discography