Janáček's string quartets are essential items in the repertoire, both towering works which took the genre into programme music like no other since Beethoven. The "Intimate Letters" Quartet is particularly poignant laying bare the elderly and frail composer's love for the genial Kamila Stosslova and being his last work is full of a deep longing that is almost apocryphal.
"The Kreutzer Sonata" is another great work, aptly full of rather violent music which depicts the brutality of Tolstoy's story. Here the Leipzig Quartet plays with singular uniformity and brilliance which culminates in the Finale, a tour-de-force if there ever was one. They are also fine interpreters of "Intimate Letters" bringing out the sheer beauty of the piece in an uncanny manner.
Dvořák's "Cypresses" are pleasant pieces full of colour and some wonderful picture postcards so typical of this most emotive of composers. In a way they are comparable to "Intimate Letters" in the sense that they were also composed originally (as songs) for a distant beloved. The Leipzigers play them with typical immediacy and character.
The disc clocks in at just over 81 minutes, surely a phenomenal amount of music and the recordings are up to the usual high standards of MD&G. If you want the Janáček works alongside some excellent Dvořák then this is certainly the disc for you.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech