Given their infrequent appearances on concert programmes, Dvořák’s string quartets have done rather well in the recorded catalogues. There are several recordings of the complete cycle of 16 works, which span the composer’s career. A couple have been made by native ensembles from the composer’s Czech homeland but also a couple more by central-European ensembles such as the Stamitz Quartet, who since their foundation in 1985 have been known as leading interpreters of Czech repertoire.
The approach of the Stamitz Quartet is quite different from either the Panocha or Prague ensembles, noted David Hurwitz in Classics Today: ‘more relaxed, less rhythmically charged, and gracious in an
old-world sort of way… The group also gives unusual stature to the somewhat formally scattered early works, particularly the monstrous Third Quartet, which at 72 minutes has to be just about the all-time longest string quartet that ostensibly observes the rules of classical form.’ Taken as a whole, the quartets chart the evolution of Dvořák’s style, from his interest in Wagnerian music in the years prior to 1870 – in the String Quartet in D major – to the folk-infused works of his later life, such as the String Quartet in G major Op.106, and show the influence of his time in the United States, with the String Quartet in F Op.96 'American'. If the only Dvorák quartet that you’re familiar with is the ‘American’, then this set will provide an embarkation point for what should prove an immensely fruitful musical journey. The late quartets in particular are shaped by the oscillations between varied weather and song that sit at the heart of the three late symphonies.
According to the Taipei Times, this set is ‘a feast for a lifetime. They’re gorgeously warm and evocative recordings, and no one could possibly go wrong in choosing them...this remains an astonishing bargain.’ This reissue includes full programme notes on each work.
Reissue of a successful Brilliant Classics box set.
Includes the complete string quartets (of course featuring the ever popular American Quartet) as well as the shorter works for string quartet, music which speaks of the beauty of Bohemia, the woods, the streams, the flowers and the rich folklore.
Played by the Czech Stamitz Quartet, who have the idiom for this music in their blood.
Highly rated in the press: “9/9, warmth and richness, highly rewarding” (Classicstoday.com).