, January 2009
DVOŘÁK, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 6 (Vlach Quartet) – Nos. 5, 7 8.553377
DVOŘÁK, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 2 (Vlach Quartet) – Nos. 8, 11 8.553372
DVOŘÁK, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 3 (Vlach Quartet) – No. 9 / Terzetto 8.553373
DVOŘÁK, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 4 (Vlach Quartet) – Nos. 10, 14 8.553374
DVOŘÁK, A.: String Quartets, Vol. 1 (Vlach Quartet) – Nos. 12, “American” and 13 8.553371
the Vlach is as good a way of exploring this repertoire as any. Their tonal matching seals their claims to be an outstanding international group, and there is nothing ‘bargain basement’ about the performances except their price. The playing is cultured and has warmth and vitality, and there can be no grumbles so far as the quality of the recorded sound is concerned; it is natural, well focused and warm. The dark intensity in a whispered pianissimo which marks the hushed opening of Op. 105, one of Dvořák’s masterpieces, leads on to performances of exceptional strength and refinement, and throughout the series the vigorous movements bring exhilaratingly sprung rhythms and slow movements that are deeply expressive. So far this has been one of Naxos’s success stories, and we are inclined to think the series strongly competitive. At the price there is no need to hesitate with this series: the Vlach are as fresh and persuasive as any of their rivals on premium-priced labels.