Janacek: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 / New Zealand String Quartet
Janácek’s final decade saw an almost unprecedented creative renewal during which he wrote some of his greatest works. Among them were his chamber music masterpieces, the two String Quartets. The first was inspired by Tolstoy’s novella The Kreutzer Sonata, a torrid tale of adultery and murder to which Janácek responded with music of increasingly frenzied passion. The second was subtitled Intimate Letters, a freely evolving work full of yearning and amorous defiance. originally cast for four violins, the two youthful Sonnets date from 1875 and balance the archaisms of the first with the lyricism of the second.
The scores of the quartets are liberally sprinkled with changes of tempi and dynamics, and nowhere are those more important than when capturing the mood of the ‘story’ being told in the opening two movements of the First Quartet. Maybe recordings from Slovak quartets are the most successful in making those moments really startling, but the New Zealanders offer very well prepared performances, full of well judged nuances, and suitably suave when required in the Second Quartet. There they question, without resolution, the contents of the letters, with undiluted searing moments of pain. In summary, with the impeccable balance between instruments, and squeaky clean intonation, these are among my recommended performances on disc.
– David's Review corner (David Denton)
Catalog Number: 8574209
Composer: Leoš Janáček
Orchestra/Ensemble: New Zealand String Quartet