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  Praga Digitals -
  PRD/DSD 250 257
  Smetana, Sibelius: String Quartets - Kocian Quartet
  Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E minor "From My Life", Sibelius: String Quartet in D minor Op. 56 "Voces Intimae", Andante Festivo

Kocian Quartet
Track listing:
  Classical - Chamber
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 3

Site review by Geohominid August 23, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:    
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Review by canonical July 28, 2010 (4 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I am comparing the Kocian Quartet's performance of the Smetana to the Julliard Quartet's recording (LP). The Kocian do not, unfortunately, come off well from the comparison. Their playing is comparatively rough, their tone strident, the intonation sometimes slippery and sometimes woeful (such as the second mvt of the Smetana), and their performance comes across as unpolished and forced. It lacks the warmth and richness of the Jullliard. The sound and recording quality is quite good (albeit overly reverberant and sometimes boomy) ... but it is the performance that is wanting.

The Sibelius is no better. Here, I compared to the Fitzwilliam String Quartet who give a pensive, moving and beautiful account of the Sibelius. The Kocian version seems rushed (5minutes 57seconds for the first movement versus 8 minutes by the Fitzwilliam), it almost always sounds forced, and shrill. Alas, not a disc for keeping.

SuperJewel box: No (old CD box)
Recording: Pure DSD

Performance: 2
Sound quality: 4

P.S. Normally, on CDs, there is a few seconds gap between movements ... and certainly such a gap between different works. By contrast, here, the Smetana runs immediately and straight into the Sibelius ... as if a continuation of the same piece. I have noticed this rather sloppy production problem on another Praga release too: Schnittke: Chamber Music - Janacek Trio

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Review by JJ August 8, 2009 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Bedrich Smetana’s String Quartet N°1, subtitled “In My Life,” dating from the year 1876, is a program work the composer commented on as such: “What I wanted to do is to retrace in music the course of my life: First movement: taste for art in my youth, romantic atmosphere, unspeakable nostalgia… In parallel, this prologue augurs a warning of future unhappiness, this E note in the finale: it is this fateful, strident squeal that went off in my ears in 1874, marking the beginning of my deafness. The second movement, quasi-polka, takes me once again to the joyous tumult of my youth when I was composing innumerable Czech dances and I myself had a reputation as an untiring dancer… The third movement, largo sostenuto, is a recollection of my first love for a young girl who later became my dear wife. The fourth movement: awakening of the real force of a national music, joy in observing that the path followed lead to success, until the moment of the brutal interruption brought on by the catastrophe; beginning of deafness, perspective of a sad future, little hope of improvement, and, in the end, a feeling that was deeply painful. That, in short, is a summary of this composition written for a limited number of instruments – the string quartet; they must get along, as would a circle of friends, something that has real importance. Nothing less.” The String Quartet in D minor “Voce Intimae” Op.56 by Jean Sibelius, which was completed in 1909, has five movements and also stems from the composer’s most inner intimacy, that of “Interior voices.” The Kocian Quartet takes charge of these works with all the expressive weight they require, and their musical discourse provides just the right amount of feelings divulged. The “intimate” music of the Czech and the Finn is like two-way mirror where all is said without ever being seen, all is seen without ever being said. In exemplary DSD sound we have now come to expect, this disc of never-before-paired works is a must-have hour of chamber music.

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 3  

Jean Sibelius - Andante Festivo, Op. 117a
Jean Sibelius - String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56 "Voces Intimae"
Bedrich Smetana - String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, JB 1:105 "From My Life"