Panocha Quartet

Dvorák: Chamber Works

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Serving its prime purpose as purveyors of the finest in Czech music, Supraphon has collected here four first-rate discs of Dvorák's chamber music played by masterful Czech musicians. Three discs are digital recordings made in the early '90s featuring the Panocha Quartet in Dvorák's three string quintets, two piano quintets, and string sextet, while the fourth disc recorded in stereo features the Suk Trio in his two piano quartets. In every case, the performances are deeply idiomatic and highly polished. Playing music they have known at least since they were in the conservatoire, both sets of Czech musicians grasp the expressive lyricism of the composer's themes, the brawny strength of his forms, and the robust vigor of his rhythms with effortless idiomatic ease. In general, the Panocha Quartet's performances are richer and more driven, while the Suk Trio's performances are sweeter in tone with a suppler sense of tempo. While Dvorák aficionados will likely already have favorite recordings of such crowd pleasers as the A major Piano Quintet, Op. 81, and the E flat major String Quintet, Op. 97, they are unlikely to know better recordings of the early A major Piano Quintet, Op. 5, or A minor String Quintet, Op. 1, than the Panocha Quartet's for the simple reason that there have hardly been any. And the Suk Trio's recording of the two piano quartets remains the most fiery and powerful coupling of these works.

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