Three romantic works by Dvorák from the 1880’s receive soulful performances by the Paris-based Thymos Quartet, pianist Christoph Eschenbach, and soprano Adriana Kucerova.
“Think about a young man in love – this is what they are about", wrote Dvorák to his publisher when he was preparing Cypresses for string quartet. The title is taken from a volume of poems by Gustav Pfleger-Moravsky which inspired the composer’s earlier burst of song writing in 1865, eight of which later became the cycle Love Songs Op. 83, and 12 of which were arranged for string quartet, five of them presented here. Recalling youthful love letters that are preserved and cherished, Love Songs and Cypresses combine beautiful melodic simplicity with the technique of a composer who was, by the mid-late 1880s, at the height of his powers. Cypresses in their string quartet form were premiered on 6 January 1888, on a bill which also featured the first performance of the Piano Quintet, Op 81.
The Paris-based Quatuor Thymos – named after an ancient Greek term meaning “spiritedness” – comprises four First Prize winners from the Paris and Lyon conservatoires. Following acclaimed performances throughout France and in other European capitols, they were invited to perform at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago by Christoph Eschenbach. This recording brings the foursome together with the eminent pianist, who also accompanies the Slovakian soprano Adriana Kucerova whose star is rapidly in the ascendant.
“[Eschenbach] is still a magnificent player, as witness his ability to make Dvorak's occasionally awkward piano writing sound like spun silk...the Quintet sounds utterly enchanting in this gloriously unhurried reading.”
“A great programming idea, this...[Kucerova is] a vocal epitome of amatory responsiveness...Throughout the entire performance there's no mistaking the leader of the pack: one is always aware of listening to an excellent quartet and an exceptional pianist. Absolutely no harm in that!”
“The playing in the quartet arrangements and the Quintet is very fine, but not everyone will respond to an interpretation which, in search of an expressive edge, often adopts abrupt changes of tempo”
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