Dvorak Chamber Works / Panocha Quartet

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This 4-disc set contains all of Dvorák’s piano quartets and quintets, plus his string quintets, the Sextet, and the Intermezzo (Nocturne) for string quintet–a movement that journeyed from the Fourth String Quartet to the Double Bass Quintet (the arrangement here), finally winding up as the Nocturne for String Orchestra. It remains one of the most harmonically forward-looking and poignant pieces that Dvorák ever wrote, and it’s no wonder that he loved it. One of the great things about the internet is the fact that everyone can use it to express their opinion. One of the worst things about the internet is that everyone can use it to express their opinion. In the latter category we find a whole host of what I call “dot-com cowards,” anonymous posters who feel they have a duty to share their views with the rest of us without having the guts or decency to stand behind their opinions by letting us know just who they are. Many of these people post on Amazon.com, where one such moron described these performances as “insensitive” and “heavy-handed,” and among the worst available.

It’s a pity, really, that such people are given a forum to display their ignorance, the evidence of which is strengthened by their need for anonymity and enchanting freedom from any feeling of obligation to describe a performance accurately. It’s not that I personally disagree with their judgment. It’s rather that the statements of what purport to be musical facts are audibly untrue. Consider, for example, the Panocha Quartet’s performance of finale of the “American” String Quintet. Is this “heavy handed?” Or how about the Suk Trio in the Second Piano Quartet’s first movement. Insensitive? Please.

The fact that we are dealing with Czech musicians does not guarantee that they will be successful in Czech music. The reason that these are great performances stems from the fact that they are played by great musicians generally. The Panocha Quartet is one of the supreme ensembles of its kind, period. The Suk Trio, similarly, which tackles the two Piano Quartets, is a superb ensemble, and not just in Dvorák (try their Beethoven). Anyone reading this will already know to take the random “reviews” posted on sales sites with a big grain of salt, but it still infuriates me to see audibly first class performances maligned by people too cowardly even to post their names.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SU3921-2

  • UPC: 099925392123

  • Label: Supraphon

  • Composer: Antonín Dvořák

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Panocha String Quartet

  • Performer: Jan Panenka, Josef Kluson, Pavel Nejtek