Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
This disc concludes the Panocha Quartet’s survey of Dvorák’s complete string quartets, a major enterprise by any standard. Both the Sixth and Seventh Quartets share the same key–A minor–but the resemblance ends there. The Sixth Quartet underwent major structural alterations on the way to its final form, which in fact may merely represent as far as Dvorák got before finding other things to do. This doesn’t mean, of course, that the music is anything other than fluent and attractive: actually it’s both, and the piece sounds fine. More to the point, none of its four movements outstays its welcome. However, the Seventh Quartet marks a major advance in Dvorák’s structural engineering, musically speaking: each of the four movements is clearly argued and endowed with appealing melodies. The Panocha’s performances, on the whole, surpass those of the Prague String Quartet (DG) and the Stamitz Quartet (Bayer), these being the only other complete cycles available (Naxos’ is still in the works). This ensemble plays with more technical polish and rhythmic suppleness, though the absence of repeats in some of the earlier quartets (especially the epic No. 3) may find some music lovers still preferring the Deutsche Grammophon set. Take any minute or two on this disc, though: the Sixth Quartet’s Poco allegro, the Seventh’s finale, or the stand-alone Andante appassionato, and the superiority of the Panocha becomes perfectly evident. Toss in warmly present sonics, and the result is a major milestone for Dvorák lovers.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: This One
ANTONIN DVORÁK - String Quartet No. 6, Op. 12 & No. 7, Op. 16; Andante Appassionato