S0117. VLACH QUARTET: Quartet in a, Op.51, #2; Quartet in B-flat, Op.67 (both Brahms). (France) Harmonia Mundi 250 074, Live Performances, 1972/1963, resp., from Czech Radio. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 794881333127
"The Vlach Quartet was one of the great Czech ensembles of the mid-20th century....The Vlach 'sound' stands as an ideal of what a quartet should be: ideally balanced from the cello on up, sweetly in tune, and never harsh."
- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
“The violinist and conductor Josef Vlach (1923-1988), who played a crucial role in cultivating the superlative Talich tradition and quality, is far from being as well known as he deserves to be. At the age of 23, Vlach co-founded the Czech Chamber Orchestra for Vaclav Talich, who after being falsely accused of collaborating with the Nazis was banned from working with the Czech Philharmonic and the National Theatre. The young orchestra soon proved to be a sensation (Pierre Fournier branded it the best chamber formation in the world), yet following the Communist coup in 1948, it rather opted for diluting rather than renouncing Talich.
The maestro's stringent requirements for the utmost artistic quality, diligence and engagement served as the fundamental principles for the Czech Chamber Orchestra, revived by Josef Vlach in 1957. They went on to gain great acclaim worldwide, with the most noteworthy triumphs including the performance in Osaka in 1960 (standing in for the Boston Symphony Orchestra), the concert at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1962 (broadcast by some 180 radio stations), tours of the USA, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, France, Belgium. The orchestra then returned from the limelight to the twilight at home, rehearsals in a dingy basement, to a country where they were more tolerated than supported. Yet even amidst such unfavourable circumstances Vlach's exceptionable musical qualities and the Talich credo would bear extraordinary fruits. According to Ivan Moravec's reminiscences, Josef Vlach was ‘in everyday life a person absolutely unexceptional, humble yet rather absent-minded, whereas his imagination as regards music was so immense that I can hardly conceive of Talich's successor possessing a greater, ampler and more compelling vision’. "