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Martinu Quartet

upc# 6 11226 00222 0

Duration: 76 min.

Price: $14.95

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The Martinu Quartet in Review

Martinu Q. image
photo: Jiri Skupien

"Flashes of brilliance and high-spirited exuberance, without sacrificing the richness of sound worthy of the best Czech quartets of recent decades."
-- Diapason (Paris)

"The Martinu Quartet mastered the work of its namesake composer, together with marvelous intonation and all the finesse required. Beethoven's Op. 18/6 showcased the Scherzo's spirit and the melancholy of the finale's introduction, with rare moments of expression throughout the work. Dvorák's "American" quartet revealed a lavish celebration of invention, vitality, and fascination with homesick melody; a marvelous end to a concert full of Czech colors and flowers set in a gold frame."
-- Classical Musik

"The Martinu Quartet gave a stunning performance of Smetana's String Quartet No. 1 E-minor."
-- Hudební rozhledy

"The Martinu String Quartet displayed not only their technical mastery but also their ability to draw on the broad spectrum of expression in Martinu's Quartet No. 5 captivating the audience with their forceful interpretation which gathered momentum culminating in the Finale."
-- Lidové noviny

"One of the most balanced groups on the circuit...the Martinu's cellist who shines most radiantly here."
-- Vranický - Early Music Review

CD image
cover: Tomas Svoboda

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sheet music in bound volumes available at
www TomasSvoboda.com


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String Qt. No.1, Op. 29  
    [1]  I Allegretto LISTEN
    [2]  II Allegro comodo LISTEN
    [3]  III Andantino LISTEN
    [4]  IV Allegro vivace LISTEN
String Qt. No. 2, Op. 151  
    [5]  I Adagio - Allegro LISTEN
    [6]  II Andantino pizzicato LISTEN
    [7]  III Lento Moderato LISTEN
String Qt. No.3, Op. 175  
    [ 8 ]  I Allegro LISTEN
    [ 9 ]  II Andante LISTEN
    [10]  III Vivace LISTEN
String Qt. No.4, Op. 179
with Bass Drum
    [11]  I Vivace LISTEN
    [12]  II Adagio-Vivace-Adagio LISTEN


Svoboda's anti-war Fourth String Quartet from 2003 poked our consciences with quiet protest. The Czech-born composer's music barely moved beneath tiny caws from Blessinger's violin. No vibrato disturbed the surface tension. Melodies trickled down, like rain on a window. We were exhausted, the music was exhausted. - David Stabler - The Oregonian

The Martinu Quartet does a fantastic job performing all these works. Given the Czech heritage of Mr. Svoboda, this quartet brings an understanding and passion for Czech music to each of these pieces. Their sound is excellent and their interpretation leaves nothing to be desired (other than to hear more). This disc is a bit of a cliffhanger, though. I must now hear the remaining 4 quartets! I wish that the 6 quartets from 2002 - 2006 were released as a set (not unlike Peter Maxwell Davies Naxos Quartets) but I am glad that I have the earlier works as a reference for Mr. Svoboda?s output. I anxiously await Volume 2 of this collection!
- Jay Batzner - August 6th, 2007 - Sequenza21/

"On paper, the music looked improbably simple. The clarinet line of "Modlitba" rested largely in the instrument's lower register, with only slight rhythmic alterations turning a basic figure into free-flowing chant. It rose as the piece progressed, naturally taking on a piercing anguish from the different timbre of the higher registers. String parts often proceeded together in quarter- and eighth-note lock step,with little more than rests and shifts to staggered imitation of motifs to lend a sense of development."

But the development was inexorable, and the sense of fear and dread palpable. Here were the echoes of Crumb, in the hair-raising, glassy sounds that opened the String Quartet, and of Shostakovich, in the almost grotesque, gut-wrenching climaxes of both pieces. There was also a frank and pitiless quality about the music, even as Frajola put down his violin to beat a bass drum in the funereal finale of the Quartet. This is not about how you feel, it seemed to say, this is what it is. Now what?"

-- Tuesday, July 03, 2007 - JAMES McQUILLEN -
-- Special to The Oregonian

"...a talent to be reckoned with."
-- San Francisco Examiner

"...beautifully recorded...all well-crafted...memorable moments...propulsive flourishes..."
-- Brett Campbell, Eugene Weekly

"...skillfully made...exciting virtuosity...brilliant scherzo..."
-- American Record Guide, re: "Four Visions for One, Two and Three Pianos." (Jan-Feb 2003 issue)

"...lots of catchy tunes and rhythmic twists...considerable variety in tempo and energy-level...mood typically straightforward and unexaggerated...style a consistent, easily approachable, modern-but-conservative idiom based on enriched tonal harmonies and traditional procedures and textures."
-- Mark L. Lehman - American Record Guide (May-June 2003 issue)

"...bridges the gap between tonal and atonal music..."
"...dramatic and often texturally complex."
"...a totally personal and very interesting musical voice."

-- David Denton - Fanfare Magazine (March-April 2001 issue)

"...a neoclassic clarity and panache not so distant from, say... Prokofieff and Shostakovich -- though Svoboda doesn't really sound much like them, or anyone else, for the matter... sparkling, witty, sometimes lyrical, sometimes percussive, but never grand or showy."
-- Mark L. Lehman - American Record Guide (March/April 2002 issue)

For More information, sound clips & scores:


Tomas Svoboda's works are heard
on the NPM recordings:

Chamber Works - The Definitive Collection - beautifully packaged 5 disc set of Svoboda's NPM releases

Dreams of a Dancer - Trio Spektrum

Chamber Works - Vol. 1 - With Clarinet - composer at the piano with Michael Anderson and members of OFAM

Children's Treasure Box - composer at the piano

Four Visions - Music for 1, 2 & 3 Pianos - composer at the piano with David Svec & Daniel Wiesner

Music from Bohemia - Trio Spektrum

Nine Etudes in Fugue Style - composer at the piano

Piano Four Hands - Tomassetti & Cooper

Piano Trios - Members of the Martinu String Qt. w/ the composer at the piano. (recipient of a 2001 American Record Guide Critics' Choice Award)

Piano Works, Vol. 1 - composer at the piano

String Quartets, Vol. 2, No. 5-8 - Martinu Quartet

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email us: NPM@NorthPacificMusic.com

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