Released near the end of 2107, it was my CD of the year; and now the Gramophone magazine have given it their Chamber Music Award for 2018. The Pavel Haas Quartet playing Dvorak — in this case, the second Piano Quintet Op. 81, with their friend Boris Giltberg on piano, and the String Quintet Op. 97, with their more-than-friend Pavel Nikl as the second viola — is as good as it gets.
Leaving aside an early CD of Beethoven quartets, given away with a BBC Music magazine, the PHQ have now released seven CDs with Supraphon. Their debut CD won the Gramophone award for Chamber Music disk of the year. And now so too have their last four recordings. This really is a quite extraordinary achievement, as far as I know quite unparalleled in any area of classical music. And it is against the stiffest of competitions, when you think how many stunningly good string quartets there are performing today.
As one — again bowled over — reviewer wondered, ‘How do they do it?’ That is really for the more musically perceptive than I am to answer. But even the amateur listener, hearing them live, can only be struck by the evident depth of musical understanding and the level of passionate commitment combined with the greatest technical control of fine detail. Long may they flourish with their new violist (above) who seems to bring yet more to the group.
Next up, a year hence, a CD of Shostakovich quartets …