— dvorak string quartet
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Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Nationality: Czech
Born: September 8, 1841, Nelahozeves, Bohema Died: May 1, 1904, Prague (age 62)

String Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106, B. 192

(for 2 violins, viola and cello)
9:50 I. Allegro moderato
10:46 II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:45 III. Molto vivace
10:40 IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
Duration: 39 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1895, November 11 to December 9 (age 54)
Premiere: October 9, 1896. Prague. Bohemian Quartet
Published: 1896 (age 54-55)
13 recordings, 43 videos
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10:01
Artemis Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
11:07
Artemis Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
7:01
Artemis Quartet
III. Molto vivace
10:40
Artemis Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:15
Prague String Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:58
Prague String Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:30
Prague String Quartet
III. Molto vivace
10:20
Prague String Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:45
Bennewitz Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
9:52
Bennewitz Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
5:43
Bennewitz Quartet
III. Molto vivace
10:26
Bennewitz Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:50
Emerson String Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:13
Emerson String Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:38
Emerson String Quartet
III. Molto vivace
10:26
Emerson String Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:49
Alban Berg Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
11:31
Alban Berg Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
7:10
Alban Berg Quartet
III. Molto vivace
11:17
Alban Berg Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:15
Pavel Haas Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:14
Pavel Haas Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:23
Pavel Haas Quartet
III. Molto vivace
10:32
Pavel Haas Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
9:21
Panocha String Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:51
Panocha String Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
7:11
Panocha String Quartet
III. Molto vivace
11:06
Panocha String Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
10:02
Guarneri String Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
11:21
Guarneri String Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:25
Guarneri String Quartet
III. Molto vivace
9:20
Guarneri String Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
39:43
Travnicek Quartet
39:17
Szymanowski Quartet
10:15
Stamitz Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:35
Stamitz Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
7:22
Stamitz Quartet
III. Molto vivace
11:20
Stamitz Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
10:51
Martinů Quartet
I. Allegro moderato
10:49
Martinů Quartet
II. Adagio ma non troppo
6:40
Martinů Quartet
III. Molto vivace
11:32
Martinů Quartet
IV. Finale. Andante sostenuto - Allegro con fuoco
44:19
Attacca Quartet
From Kai Christiansen

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

String Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 106, B. 192

Antonín Dvořák Antonín Dvořák composed reams of outstanding chamber music such that it seems there is always something more to discover or certainly, to rediscover. Spanning a diversity of ensembles and instruments, even “just” the string quartets offer a marvelous expanse and range. While the beloved “American” quartet is surely the most famous and frequently programmed, there are 14 to explore with at least the last five widely considered masterworks. The “American” is the 12th in chronological order, composed in 1893 while Dvořák served as director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York. Two years later, in 1895, he departed from America and returned to his native Bohemia. In November, Dvořák began earnestly working on a new string quartet that initially germinated while he was still in the U.S., but he quickly encountered a writer’s block. Setting this aside and weathering a bit of a lull, Dvořák began again with yet another new quartet, found his stride and with customary momentum, swiftly completed what became his 13th string quartet. It was published as Op. 106 only after he subsequently completed and published the previously waylaid quartet, the last, number 14, with the lower opus number 105.

The String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, Op. 106 is an extraordinary work by any measure and even among the last five “great” quartets measures is a distinctive high-water mark. Unmistakably Dvořák for its endearing lyricism, exciting rhythmic vitality, and the ingenious, transparent textures inseparable its vibrant color, the singular quartets achieves a refined amalgam of his stylistic traits. In terms of his famous evocation of folk music, it is not so overtly Nationalistic as his “Bohemian” (or “Slavonic”) works on one hand, nor his recent “American” works on the other. Rather, it seems these impulses are richly folded into music that speaks primarily in an exquisite rhetoric of the Romantically charged but essentially Classical, European string quartet. Inherently conversational as most great string quartets are, this one conjures a dialogue along a lineage with the voices of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms implied in the original eloquence of Dvořák’s own.

In a fine touch of artistic unity, the distinctive opening flourishes —featuring trills, and falling arabesques—appear at the beginning of the first movement and reappear towards the end of the very last. In a cyclic construction, the finale recalls the first movement’s two main themes and even a hint of the second movement as the overall quartet recalls its origins like a memory. The second, slow movement is astonishing. It might best be described as a double set of variations as it alternates between two themes, one warm, bright, simple and unified like a choir, the other dark and complex with the texture unraveled into separate strands. As the music oscillates between hope and despair, the variations become more grand and emphatic, the emotions more intense and the dramatic catharsis more profound. The third movement is a characteristically vital scherzo that inverses the previous movement’s dark-within-light with an outer driven, furioso dance giving way, twice, to a softer, more relaxed trio within. As if mirroring the first movement’s introduction, the last movement begins with a long sigh before plunging headlong into a scintillating perpetual motion that sustains the high energy of a classical rondo finale. It traverses a panorama of episodic contrasts that eventually recall the quartet’s beginnings before snapping back into its fully “amped” conclusion. With the last two quartets of 1895, Dvořák concludes his stunning catalog of chamber music and indeed, his “absolute” instrumental music. In his final years, Dvořák turned exclusively to program music including tone poems and opera.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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