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Dvorak: String Quartet No. 2, B 17; Bagatelles, Op. 47; Rond

Dvorak: String Quartet No. 2, B 17; Bagatelles, Op. 47; Rond

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The stellar Fine Arts Quartet returns to Naxos with an album of Dvorák gems and surprises. The Second String Quartet is a fascinating example of early experimentation that would foreshadow the modernistic innovations of Schoenberg and his contemporaries. The Bagatelles are heard here in their original instrumentation featuring the harmonium.

REVIEW:

Did Antonín Dvořák suspect that his second string quartet was musically ahead of its time? Was he himself perhaps surprised, even shocked, by its harmonic boldness? Did he not yet feel confident enough as a composer? All of this could explain why the first private performance of the B flat major quartet did not take place until 63 years after it was written – in 1932 – from a reconstructed score. In the meantime, the quartet has been recorded more often than it has been heard in the concert hall.

In its complete recording, the Fine Arts Quartet has now also reached this second string quartet and places it in relation to the Bagatelles op. 47 and the Rondo op. 94.

In both works, the Fine Arts Quartet touchingly captures the Bohemian character, the folk song-like quality that is a basic element in Dvořák’s music. Lots of charm, a soft sound and supple bowing provide the necessary lightness and a slight smile behind the notes.

This grace can also be found in the string quartet – here, however, it comes across more as intimate passion, which is transformed into convincing expressivity through the daring harmonies. Despite the quasi-rhapsodic structure of the work, the Fine Arts Quartet never allows the songfulness of Dvořák’s music to be forgotten by finely differentiating the forward-looking harmonies so that the composition never becomes piecemeal. This also applies to the dance-like moments, which appear again and again and form an exciting symbiosis with Dvořák’s new ideas in this interpretation – in a quartet that also formally dispenses with classical structures.

-- Pizzicato (Guy Engels)

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    • UPC/Barcode: 747313451371
    • Item Number: 8574513