COMPOSERS: Dvorák and Martinu,Suk
WORKS: Works by Suk, Dvorák and Martinu
PERFORMER: Krysia Osostowicz (vln), Timothy Boulton (vla), Richard Lester (vlc), Susan Tomes (pno, hrm)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 7 59245 2 DDD
The attraction was Martinu, but the discovery is Suk. This is the 17-year-old composer on full, heated song – definitely beyond the ‘interesting’ stage, loose and alive, not a piece to take home to your mother. Sweeping octaves and unisons for the strings set the tone of the first movement, which for all its tumescent energy, like a youth’s perception of the Dvorák F minor Trio, works through quite a concise form. But the Adagio is this quartet’s pride, opening with a cello solo to inspire love at first hearing and intensifying unstoppably at the centre, with a big pause and a superbly handled wind-down.
This is a miracle of a movement, fit to place alongside teenage masterpieces such as the Mendelssohn Octet, Shostakovich 1, Mozart 29. The playing, putting wholeheartedness before virtuosity, is as expansive and generous as the music, and brings the finale to a flamboyant end that would lift the roof of the Wigmore Hall. Still, Martinu too is on form: one of his early American pieces, more propulsive and more than lyrical at first, but spawning the typical chromatic cascades, bell-chords and swinging rhythms.
Again the Adagio is its peak, intense and lean to start (no piano for over four minutes) and acquiring a singing warmth in its passionate, interwoven lines. The Dvorák is delicious, with a harmonium sustaining chords and putting in the odd chirpy phrase while the cello plucks away and two violins chase each other. Mellow sound, for a Steinway. Robert Maycock