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Martinu: String Quartets

Martinu: String Quartets

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Long available only in a larger box, the only available digital-era set of Martinu’s string quartets, recorded in 1990 by a native Czech ensemble. Martinu composed seven quartets over the course of his career, from the First in 1918 to the Seventh in 1947. This chronological range therefore mirrors the development of his music, from Debussy and Franck-accented Bohemianism in the First to a more up-to-date French influence on the Second from 1925, which arrives in the finale at the kind of chugging accumulations of motoric energy that became his trademark.
The Third (1929) proceeds to refine and concentrate this style, still inflected with Czech folk rhythms, before the Fourth (1937) embarks on the project of spicy neoclassicism which lends Martinu’s mid-period masterpieces such as the Fourth and Fifth symphonies their particular, ambiguous sense of industry. Indeed the Fifth Quartet of 1938 is a pivotal work in his huge and multifaceted oeuvre, unsettled, introspective and apparently shadowed by a secret affair with a pupil, whose song is quoted within the quartet. No. 6 dates from 1946, written in Martinu’s postwar exile in the US and yet optimistic where Bartok’s Sixth in similar circumstances is a soul-searching affair. From a year later, the Seventh still retains a youthful, neoclassical vigour, and a Czech flavour to the melodies. This generously filled set concludes with the attractive ‘Madrigals’ Duo and the Second String Trio. The direct emotional appeal of all seven quartets is vividly brought to life by the Stamitz Quartet in a recording first issued in 1990, and which still has very few rivals on disc. Established in 1985, the Stamitz Quartet quickly became known as leading interpreters of Czech repertory. ‘I can heartily recommend this comprehensive traversal of the unpredictable, occasionally highly impressive works that make up the corpus of Martinu’s Quartets.’ (MusicWeb International)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 3
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
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