- String Quartet No. 3 in D major, B. 18
Dvorák: String Quartets, Vol. 3by Vlach Quartet Prague
Probably only the most dedicated of Dvorák's fans will feel the urge to hear multiple recordings of his "Third String Quartet in D major." Written under the influence of Wagner and Liszt while the 29-year-old composer was still finding his way, the work is the longest Dvorák wrote in the form, with the longest opening movement he wrote in any form. Despite the neophyte composer's best efforts, the hour-long work sprawls, especially in its half-hour long first movement. Paying focused attention while Dvorák wends his way through endless chromatic modulations toward an interminably delayed and not especially satisfying climax may take more effort than all but the hardiest fans of the composer are willing to expend. The listener must decide which of the four recordings available of the "D major Quartet" to choose. There are solid reasons for trying this 1998 Naxos recording by the Vlach Quartet. The Vlach, like DG's Prague Quartet, Bayer's Stamitz Quartet, and Supraphon's Panocha Quartet, is a Czech group, and like its compatriots, the Vlach's playing is steeped in the Czech string tradition: sweet-toned, lean, and lyrical, but rhythmically robust. The Vlach is perhaps more expressive in its phrasing, and possibly more relaxed in the ensemble than the other three, but for those unfamiliar with the Czech string tradition, these differences will likely not make much of a difference. More importantly, the Vlach's performance is quicker than the Prague and Stamitz performances and slower than the Panocha performance, giving the work all possible cogency, without forcing it to move faster than is advisable, considering its ramshackle structures. For some listeners, the most significant difference between the four may be the accessibility of the recording. The performances by DG's Prague Quartet and Bayer's Stamitz Quartet are available only as part of their cycles of the complete quartets. Supraphon's version with the Panocha Quartet is available as part of the cycle, and also on a single disc coupled with the group's account of Dvorák's two "Waltzes for string quartet." Naxos' Vlach Quartet's recording, however, is available individually, without a coupling and at a bargain price, so for listeners looking only for a recording of the "D major String Quartet," the Vlach's may be the best choice.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsVlach Quartet Prague Primary Artist
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