6. 11. 2022, 3 p.m.

Venue: Reduta Theatre

Pavel Haas Quartet

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Bedřich Smetana: String Quartet No. 2 in D Minor
Sergei Prokofiev: String Quartet No. 2 in F Major (on Kabardinian themes), op. 92
Leoš Janáček: Quartet for Two Violins, Viola and Cello “Intimate Letters”, JW VII/13

 

This concert by the excellent Pavel Haas Quartet ensemble offers three chamber works, two of which rank among the most fundamental Czech quartet compositions.
Janáček is often interpreted as an opponent of Bedřich Smetana, but this rumour, which began spreading even during Janáček´s lifetime and significantly complicated his life, has no true basis. Janáček highly respected Smetana; he just didn’t particularly appreciate Smetana’s opera works, but then he valued his fellow composer’s chamber works all the more for it. And why should that be surprising? After all, both composers created some kind of musical autobiography through the quartets that are on the programme of this concert.

Bedřich Smetana composed his String Quartet No. 2 during a very tragic period of his life. After the definitive loss of his hearing combined with constant whistling in his ears, along with other gradually mounting health issues, all of which had an impact on the composer’s mental state, he also found himself in total social isolation. He composed this, his second, quartet in 1882 and described it as continuing on from where “From My Life” left off, after a catastrophe; it expresses the whirling of music in a person who has lost their hearing. The composition thus reflects the entirety of the poverty, mental disquiet, melancholy, happy memories and failing physical strength of its gifted creator.

Fifty-two years later, Janáček described his experiences with his beloved Kamila Stösslová in his Quartet for Two Violins, Viola and Cello “Intimate Letters”. Both works are connected by their significant intimacy, emotion and creative truthfulness.
Prokofiev´s String Quartet No. 2 was born of a completely different situation. In 1941, the composer and other selected artists were evacuated due to the danger connected with the termination of the Russian-German non-aggression pact and the attack on the Soviet Union by German troops. Prokofiev was relocated to Nalchik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria region, in the North Caucasus. While there he was advised to write a work based on the local folk culture, and so the remarkable second quartet inspired by the folk melody and rhythm of this region was created. The work had its premiere under dramatic conditions in Moscow in 1942.

Jiří Zahrádka

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