“Theresienstädter Konzert” – MOZART: String Quartet in B-flat, KV 159; PAVEL HAAS: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 115; SCHUBERT: String Quartet in A-minor, Op. 29 – Bartholdy-Ensemble Rheinfelden – EigenArt

by | Oct 28, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“Theresienstädter Konzert” – MOZART: String Quartet in B-flat, KV 159; PAVEL HAAS: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 115; SCHUBERT: String Quartet in A-minor, Op. 29 – Bartholdy-Ensemble Rheinfelden – EigenArt 10390, 66:34 *** [Distr. by Naxos]:The “Terezin” Concerts dedicated to those who perished at the Theresienstadt concentration camp (a camp known for its high population of musical artists, almost all of whom perished after being sent to Auschwitz) are held on the morning of the last Sunday before Advent, dedicated to the memory of the departed. Sandwiched in between two classical and romantic works is a piece by someone who was persecuted by the National Socialists. For this concert, that composer is Pavel Haas, a man who was highly critical of his own work (giving opus numbers to only 18 of his 50-odd pieces), and who also wrote a lot of music for films. This quartet is charged with the polymeters of both jazz and Czech elements, to great effect. While I would be hesitant to proclaim it a masterpiece, it is effective and highly enjoyable.

The bookends to this concert start with the fifth of Mozart’s “Milanese” quartets, and maybe the best one. Finishing out the program is the Schubert “Rosamunde” quartet, one of the most famous and beloved in the repertory. I found the resonance of this recording a little off-putting; string quartets must have a certain intimacy about them even in their most effulgent and expressive moments, and broadly miked concerts shift the emphasis away from the hidden to the explosive, and it is not always attractive. The performances by and large are fine, if not the best in the catalog, and it might be worth getting this for the Haas only–certainly not the Schubert. If you want to cautiously explore, and have a need for the Mozart, proceed with confidence, knowing that there are better recordings out there. But the Haas is truly worthwhile.

— Steven Ritter

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