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

Gramophone Award
Chamber Award (2015)
BBC Music Magazine Award
Chamber Award (2016)
Disc of the Week
BBC Radio 3 (2015)
Disc of the Year
Presto Classical (2015)
Recording of the Month
MusicWeb International (2015)
Best Chamber Album of the Year
Sinfini Music (2015)

Audio samples

Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From my Life"

01. Allegro vivo appassionato
02. Allegro moderato a la polka
03. Largo sostenuto
04. Vivace

Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 2 in D minor

01. Allegro
02. Allegro moderato. Andante cantabile
03. Allegro non piu moderato, ma agitato e con fuoco
04. Finale. Presto

Album information

SU4172-2, release date 17. 4. 2015

The PHQ understand absolutely the plasticity of Smetana’s vision and convey it unerringly, unshrinkingly – and in some ways even more convincingly than the Talich, which is saying something. This is extraordinarily bold playing – and they truly capture the sense that Smetana is writing symphonic quartet music.


After their Janáček quartets and their award-winning Dvořák (Gramophone Award 2011 "Recording of the Year"), the Pavel Haas Quartet have now put all their energy to the service of the music of Bedřich Smetana. Even though his chamber music is very modest in scale, each of these works can be said without exaggeration to be a foundation stone of Czech chamber music. They are personal works, often with a strong autobiographical element. He wrote both quartets towards the end of his life when he was already suffering from deafness. The first quartet, "From My Life", is programmatic: "I wanted to express musically the course of my life… The composition is almost entirely private, and so intentionally written for four instruments that should talk together - as if they were a close circle of friends - about the things that have shaped me so significantly." Quartet No. 2 seems almost to belong to the 20th century in the unconventionality of it's composition - something that greatly disturbed Smetana's contemporaries. For the Pavel Haas Quartet, Smetana's music is an obvious and clear choice, not a sudden revelation; it is "only" the concept of the music itself that is revelatory. The Quartet doesn't try to make itself stand out in some superficial, external way - it doesn't bet on extremes. It's originality comes from its efforts to penetrate to the very core of the work and from the thrilling and comprehensive way in which it achieves this. So, how does our immortal Smetana sound in the twenty-first century? You will find the answer on this stunning recording.

In their native repertoire they are well nigh incomparable. I have not heard an account of “From My Life”…that prepares us so starkly, in its turbulent opening Allegro vivo appassionato, for its tragic outcome…And it’s hard to imagine a more compelling or harrowing take on the less frequently programmed D minor quartet.


These are definitive performances in which nothing is taken for granted, enhanced by a resonant acoustic which gives opulence to the weightier sections… These performances set a new standard and reveal so much of what makes these quartets unique.


There's a current of joy here, both in the act of music-making and in the artists' evident love of the music itself.


Další alba


Dmitry Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 2, 7, 8


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


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


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


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


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


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

Complete discography