For the Pavel Haas Quartet, recording Dvořák’s String Quintet op.97 and Piano Quintet op.81 is the ideal way to celebrate old friendships with music from the New World. Tom Stewart reports from Prague
Just before the Pavel Haas Quartet wind up for the afternoon, the musicians perform a few takes of the final pages of Dvořák’s String Quintet’s second movement, a tightly coiled scherzo in rapid duple time. Liable to change course at any second, it’s bold, energetic music that requires airtight ensemble playing and a rainbow of tonal colour. Far from losing energy, however, the Pavel Haas’s sound become more electric with each rendition; each gear shift is more exhilarating than the last.
So how do they achieve this assured ebullience? ‘The music is very fresh,’ says cellist Peter Jarůšek, ‘but in order to deliver that freshness you have to be completely prepared technically. On the other hand, you can spoil the effect if it’s obvious you’re thinking very hard about something, even if it’s necessary to do so. Take bowing, for example. If you’re always focused on where every centimetre of the bow is all the time, along with the speed and pressure you’re using, you lose any sense of immediacy.’
Photo: ©Petra Hajska