JINDRICH FELD: Chamber Music – String Quartet No. 5, String Quintet, String Quartet No. 6 – Prague City Quartet / Smetana Quartet with Jan Talich Snr. (viola) / Prazak Quartet – Praga Digitals

by | Jul 26, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

JINDRICH FELD: Chamber Music – String Quartet No. 5, String Quintet, String Quartet No. 6 – Prague City Quartet / Smetana Quartet with Jan Talich Snr. (viola) / Prazak Quartet – Praga Digitals Stereo-only SACD PRD/DSD 350037 [not distr. in the US] 70:58 *****:

Jindrich Feld (1925-2007) was an independent-minded Czech composer whose love for his country infuses his music with all the beauty and difficulties he encountered over the years. Commissions from outside the country, primarily France and later the US, allowed him to make a good living, and his natural charm and an assumption of an air of innocence when dealing with the Soviet-Communist authorities achieved much when he needed the assistance of officials in charge of musical activities.

Extremely well-read, he also communicated with friends in Latin, and he was so respected abroad his music was not subjected to political boycott. He has been described as a natural successor to Martinu and Bartok, and the later music (as on this CD) delves much deeper into the area of dodecaphony. These are highly accomplished works written after the Soviet invasion of 1968 and the fifth quartet and the quintet do reflect in part those dark days in Czech history. The humour is black, more Kafka than the Good Soldier Schweik, though the tension is relieved by Feld’s natural exuberance and optimism.

The three works here are performed live by three different quartets, the dedicatees of the respective works, on three occasions in Paris. Feld co-founded Praga Digitals with his friend of nearly 50 years, Pierre Barbier, in 1992, and together they have built up in a relatively short time a powerful catalogue of recordings, particularly of chamber music. This CD is issued in Feld’s memory and the notes are an affectionate tribute by Barbier. The performances are stunning in their intensity and virtuosity, and the recordings – presented in stereo only – are extremely fine. These works have been a rewarding discovery and are recommended with all enthusiasm.

— Peter Joelson

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