Smetana - String Quartets Nos 1 & 2
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Label: Australian Eloquence
Cat No: ELQ4807408
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 5th January 2015
ArtistsGabrieli String Quartet
The performances are given by a British group, the Gabrieli String Quartet, which was founded in 1966 and won its greatest reputation in its first 20 years, when it was led by Kenneth Sillito. Violist Ian Jewel and cellist Keith Harvey were also founder members but Irish violinist Brendan O'Reilly joined in 1969. Their recording of the Second Quartet receives its first release on CD.
Begun in October 1876, Smetana's E minor Quartet, 'From My Life', was completed by the end of the year. Its first reception was lukewarm, being considered too advanced, musically and technically, and too 'orchestral'. It certainly presented the viola in a fresh light: never had this instrument been elevated to such eminence in a piece of chamber music, or carried such a weight of utterance. But it soon entered the repertory, and after World War II the Smetana Quartet gave thousands of performances all round the world.
The D minor Quartet, written at the request of Ludevít Procházka, was composed from midsummer 1882 to 12 March 1883. Arnold Schoenberg pointed out what a forward-looking work it was. Smetana was present when it was played at Srb-Debrnov's home but was too ill to attend the premiere.
‘[the sound] is well integrated and reproduces with a natural presence’ - Gramophone, December 1978
‘resonant and spacious … the beautifully recorded Decca is the one to have’ - Gramophone, November 1978
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