The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
A worthwhile introduction to the folk styles of eastern Europe
Monday, 01 August 2011
Bohemian Quartet (www.bohemianquartet.com)
Based in Rhode Island, the Bohemian Quartet ( violin, viola, cello and bass) specialises in gypsy music of central and eastern Europe. Although it takes its name from the Prague string ensemble of a century ago, Czech rhythms are absent.
Violinist Stan Renard, who has arranged all the music, is a highly accomplished player and has the csárdás and hora styles at his fingertips. As bassist John DeBossu, who mainly plays pizzicato, is also a nimble musician, the performances are very enjoyable, although the ensemble as a whole does not always move with complete unanimity.
I like the suite And the Violins Stopped Playing as much as anything on the disc, especially as the musicians play up quite a storm in the second part. If it all seems slightly second-hand, like listening to a New York klezmer band or a London gospel choir, the CD will make a pleasant introduction to Romanian, Hungarian and Polish folk styles, though I am not sure what Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion is doing in this company – he seems to get in everywhere, like a virus.
The live recordings are extremely realistic and all the members of the group contribute friendly spoken introductions.
From the August 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.