The Strad Issue: June 2018
Description: Perfectly matched music and musicians capture Dvořák’s glow
Musicians: Jerusalem Quartet, Veronika Hagen (viola), Gary Hoffman (cello)
Works: DVOŘÁK String Quintet op.97; String Sextet op.48
Catalogue Number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMM 902320
Brahms felt that ‘Dvořák is never at a loss for an idea, unlike the rest of us. His music is so beautiful, refined and natural-sounding,’ while Dvořák reflected modestly in later life that ‘despite the fact I have moved a little in the great musical world, I remain what I always was: a simple Czech musician.’ Both statements sum up the life-enhancing naturalness of his creative genius and sprang immediately to mind when listening to these captivating performances, which interpretatively feel like a throwback to the golden age.
Working in Berlin’s Teldex Studio, the Jerusalem Quartet radiates the kind of infectious bonhomie and musical imperativeness normally encountered only in live performances. Producer Martin Sauer and engineer René Möller provide a perfect recorded ambience, complimenting the playing’s inner glow to perfection.
With his first book of Slavonic Dances recently behind him, Dvořák discovered in his A major String Quintet op.81 a perfect fusion of open-air innocence, melodic radiance and Germanic structural rigour that served as an expressive template for the remainder of his career, as can be readily sensed in the later E flat major Quintet op.97. The Jerusalem players – a special word of praise here for the exquisite work of leader Alexander Pavlovsky – and guests respond with a beguiling warmth and soaring cantabile to ravish the senses. In the wrong hands, Dvořák’s music can appear to meander on occasion, but here one wishes its heartfelt inspiration would go on for ever.