Czech Quartet Tradition - Bohemian / Prague String Quartets  (2-Biddulph LAB 091/92)
Item# S0099
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Czech Quartet Tradition - Bohemian / Prague String Quartets  (2-Biddulph LAB 091/92)
S0099. THE CZECH QUARTET TRADITION: BOHEMIAN STRING QUARTET (Karel Hoffmann, Josef Suk, Jerí Herold, Ladislav Zelenka): Quartet in B-flat, Op.11 (Suk); Waltz in A, Op.54, #1; Quartet in E-flat, Op.51; American Quartet in F, Op.96 (all Dvorák); From My Life Quartet in e (Smetana) - recorded 1928; THE PRAGUE QUARTET (Richard Zika, Herbert Berger, Ladislav Cerný, Miloš Sádlo): Quartet in A-flat, Op.105; Quartet in G, Op.106 (both Dvorák) - recorded 1932-33. (England) 2-Biddulph LAB 091/92, recorded 1928-33. Transfers by Ward Marston. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 744718009220

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Biddulph’s invaluable THE CZECH QUARTET TRADITION, where composer Josef Suk plays second fiddle in his own Quartet, Op. 11, [offers] the legendary Bohemian Quartet, whose tonal glissades and supple phrasing make the most of Smetana’s First and Dvorák’s American Quartets, while the roughly contemporaneous Prague Quartet are equally cordial in Dvorák’s Opp. 105 and 106. Here, documentation by Tully Potter is a virtual dissertation, and a highly readable one at that.”

- Classical-Music.com, BBC





“The Bohemian Quartet (known as the Czech Quartet after 1918) were a Czech string quartet of international repute that was founded in 1891 and disbanded in 1934. The Quartet was founded in Prague by three pupils of Antonín Bennewitz (Karel Hoffmann, Josef Suk and Oskar Nedbal) and a pupil of Hanuš Wihan (Otakar Berger); Bennewitz and Wihan were both teachers at the Prague Conservatory. Wihan had himself studied at Prague, and was cellist of the chamber quartet of Ludwig II in Munich, becoming Professor at Prague in 1888. He replaced his student Otakar Berger as cellist in the quartet when Berger died prematurely. Wihan then directed the Quartet until 1913 when the strain of touring obliged him to retire from it and resume his teaching. His place was then taken by Ladislav Zelenka. The group made repeated tours in Europe, especially with the quartets of Dvorák and Smetana, and were noted for their warm tone and fiery rhythms. In 1922 the four members were appointed professors at the Prague Conservatory.

Many key contemporary works were written for and/or first performed by the Bohemian Quartet. Most notably, this included works by Antonín Dvorák and Leoš Janácek, such as Janácek's second string quartet, subtitled ‘Intimate Letters’.

The Prague Quartet was a string quartet based in Prague that was in existence from 1920 to 1955. Along with the Ševcík Quartet and Bohemian Quartet, it was one of the most important chamber ensembles of the interwar years. The beginnings of the ensemble date back to 1919, when Richard Zika (1st violin) together with his brother Ladislav Zika (cello), Mirek Dezel (viola) and Ivo Trost (2nd violin) founded the Jugoslavenski Quartet. The members of the quartet played in the orchestra of the Slovene National Theatre in Ljubljana. Ladislav Czerný later replaced Dezel on viola and Slovene violinist Karel Sancin took the post of Ivo Trost. Zika brothers and & Czerný, expatriate Czechs working in Ljubljana, founded the Zika Quartet together with Karel Sancin in 1920. The first performance took place in Ptuj on 22 March 1920. The Quartet relocated to Prague in 1921 where it was called the Czechoslovak Quartet, and from 1929, the Prague Quartet. During the 1920's, the ensemble travelled and performed extensively around Czechoslovakia and Europe. In 1927, the Prague Quartet undertook a six month-tour of South America. During World War II when the Germans forbade nationalistic titles, it was known as the Czerný Quartet (1943–1944). The quartet toured extensively and helped to promote the music of Paul Hindemith, with whom & Czerný was associated. Playing with exceptional rhythmic vitality, tonal quality and technical address, the group influenced generations of Czech musicians. The quartet made several recordings including works of Antonín Dvorák, Bedrich Smetana, Leoš Janácek, Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann.

The quartet disbanded in 1955 and soon, with & Czerný's encouragement, Novotný, the quartet's final second violinist, founded the ‘City of Prague Quartet’ (known as the Prague String Quartet).”

- Ned Ludd