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Penguin Guide, January 2009

An intelligent coupling by the Vlach of the earliest Quintet, coupled with one of the most masterly of all his chamber works, the E flat, Op. 97. No need to worry about this performance or recording, for both are excellent and…none is priced so competitively.

Turok’s Choice, December 2001

"The Vlach Quartet Prague offers splendid Dvorak readings of the two string quintets. The performances are sprightly spring, beautifully nuanced, warm and tender."

Carl Bauman
American Record Guide, October 2001

"This finely recorded disc goes to the top of the list for Op. 97 and, obviously, for Op. 1 it would be recommended even at full price. It is an outstanding bargain."

Misba Donat
BBC Music Magazine, June 2001

"Dvořák was just 19, and fresh out of the Prague Organ School, when he wrote his Op. 1 String Quinter - his earliest extant chamber work. Its opening movement is imbued with the melancholy, if not the mastery, of Schubert's Rosamunde String Quartet in the same key of A minor; and its finale is somewhat naively based on the main theme of Mozart's great G minor Piano quartet. It is difficult to imagine that Dvořák would have wanted this promising, but immature piece ever to see the light of day. (It was first published as late as 1943.)

The E flat Quintet, Op. 97, was composed more than 30 years later, in the wake of the American Quartet, Op. 96. One of the themes of its fine slow movement was apparently conceived as a setting of 'My country, tis of thee', though elsewhere the work is imbued, like its more famous companion-piece, with the pentatonic melodies Dvořák heard while in the USA.

The Vlach Quartet responds to this music very well, and is particularly impressive in the variations of Op. 97, as well as the nostalgic coda of its opening movement. There are times, however, when the Czech players' approach seems rather safe and sedate: the scherzo of Op. 97 is much lighter and more transparent, at a considerably quicker tempo, in the hands of the Vienna Sextet, whose rumbustious finale also has greater vigour..."

David Hurwitz

"Like most of his early works, Dvorák's Op. 1 String Quintet does not deserve its current obscurity. Certainly it lacks the melodic distinction of the much later piece that's also included on this finely played, excellently recorded disc. Still, the music captures and holds the attention, lacks for nothing in energy in its outer movements, and shows a fine sense of formal balance. The so-called 'American' Quintet Op. 97 reveals the quintessence of the mature Dvorak: a generous fund of folk-inspired melody, a marvelously danceable scherzo, crystal clear construction in all four movements, and a fascinatingly colorful exploration of string textures. The augmented Vlach Quartet makes the most of both works, offering playing in which good balances and accurate intonation never get in the way of the music's often gutsy, vigorous character. They're particularly effective in the finale of Op. 97, whose 'Humoresque No. 5'-style melody can sound too slender for a large movement if not given enough rhythmic profile. These players also exploit the husky sound of the two violas to evocative effect in the slow movements of both works. In short, this recording makes a fine addition to the group's distinguished ongoing cycle of Dvorak chamber music for strings."

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