Compatriots give nuanced Dvořák performance

Pavel Haas Quartet give a energetic but sometimes overly complicated performance of Dvořák's Sacred Choral Music

Composer: Dvořák
Repertoire: Sacred Choral Music
Artists: Pavel Haas Quartet
Rating:  3/5
Genre: Chamber
Label: Supraphon SU 4038-2

The Music Dvořák wrote his Op.96 String Quartet during a fishing break in Iowa shortly after completing his Ninth symphony in New York. The quartet has the same melodic simplicity and directness as the symphony, a carefree feel with which the composer tried to evoke the spirit of Haydn. The Op.106 quartet can be harder to get to grips with for the listener: it’s just as buoyant if a little melodically elusive. 

The Performance You’d expect the Pavel Haas Quartet from the Czech Republic to be ‘under the skin’ of Dvořák. They are and they aren’t: they certainly have a knowing way with the composer’s tunes and textures, but sometimes you crave a slightly more straightforward approach that doesn’t lunge into such massively contrasting textures and volumes every few seconds. That said, there’s an arresting energy and atmosphere to the performances and they certainly contain new perspectives. 

The Verdict This is a heavily nuanced performance; if you’re hearing these works for the first time, you might want to try something more straightforward. That said, there’s integrity in the performances and the product is beautifully presented. 

Want More? Try Dvořák’s string serenades in a wonderfully ‘straight’ recording from Jakub Hrůša, also on Supraphon (SU 39322).