- String Quartet No. 1 in A major, B. 8 (Op. 2)
- String Quartet No. 6 in A minor, B. 40 (Op.12)
Listeners looking for a terrific single disc of the best string quartets by Dvorák are advised to look elsewhere. But listeners looking for a terrific single disc with two of the earliest string quartets by Dvorák need look no further. The Vlach Quartet is a fine Czech quartet born and bred in the Czech school of string playing -- that is, smooth, sweet, and just a bit tart -- and its performances on this, the seventh volume in its survey of the complete quartets of Dvorák, are as convincing as any of the group's earlier recordings. Of course, the music itself is hardly at the level of later Dvorák; as a composer who taught himself how to compose by composing, early Dvorák tends to get lost in transitions and developments. But early, middle, or late, Dvorák was always capable of turning out a catchy tune, a poignant harmony, and a sprightly rhythm, and the Vlach revels in the joie de vivre of all of it. As compelling as early Dvorák can be, he is in these dedicated performances. Listeners who are already fond of the later Dvorák quartets will find much to admire here. Naxos' 2003 sound is a little dry but warm and clear.