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COMPOSERS: Dvorak/Tchaikovsky/Borodin
WORKS: String Quartet, Op. 96 (American); String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2
PERFORMER: Emerson String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 445 551-2 DDD (1986)
These are masterly performances of three of the most popular quartets to come out of Eastern Europe in the 19th century, each tinged to some extent with its composer’s native folk music. There is rather too much of the pace of modern New York and not enough of the open prairies in the Emerson’s vigorous rendition of Dvorák’s American. But the opening of the Tchaikovsky signals a more relaxed, expansive mood, with a freer approach to rhythm and more than a touch of portamento. The Borodin’s famous Notturno has just the right mood of hushed midnight calm. For my taste the recorded sound is a trifle too dry, stifling the natural sonority of the instruments. Janet Banks