Dante Quartet

Janácek: String Quartets

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Between 1997 and 2007, England's Dante Quartet released five discs on three different labels. First, there was a disc called Les Vendredis (The Fridays) for ASV featuring romantic quartet music from nineteenth century Russia. Then there were three discs for Dutton: a disc coupling Lyapunov's Piano Sextet with Grechaninov's String Quartet No. 3 and two discs containing all of Rubbra's chamber music, including his four quartets. Finally on Meridian, there was this disc with both Janácek's string quartets plus his sonata and allegro for violin and piano. As on the four previous discs, the performances here are wholly engrossing and totally compelling. Led by violinist Krysia Osostowicz with second violinist Giles Francis, violist Judith Busbridge, and cellist Bernard Gregor-Smith, the Dante Quartet tears into Janácek's extremely expressive music with barely restrained passion. The "Kreutzer" Sonata is wildly exciting and the "Intimate Letters" is rhapsodic. But, while the interpretations sometimes strain the limits of propriety, the Dante Quartet's playing is always controlled and every accent and gesture finely calibrated for maximum impact. And the same could be said of Osostowicz's performances of the sonata and allegro. Accompanied by fiery Hungarian pianist Ferenc Rados, her playing is extremely intense but always focused and always in control. In sum, this is another excellent if altogether too infrequent disc by the Dante Quartet. Meridian's Natural Sound Recording is very detailed and very present, but perhaps a bit too close in the climaxes.

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