Pavel Haas Quartet!

Prokofiev: String Quartet 1 & 2; and Sonata for Two Violins

Performed by the Pavel Haas Quartet

The quartet is named after the Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), who was deported from Czechoslovakia in 1941, initially imprisoned at the work camp Terezin, and finally died at Auschwitz. The performers selected the name primarily because of his importance to Czech music, and in particular because of his three string quartets, all of which they have now recorded.

The Prokofiev Quartet No. 2 was written in 1941, when Prokofiev was taken to safety in the Caucasus mountains where he composed this music. It is based on folk tunes, and it presents some interesting rhythms reminiscent of dances by Bartok. The Quartet no. 1, from twenty years earlier, is a lot darker in the slow movement but much less challenging in comparison with the string quartets of Bartok and others.

The Pavel Haas Quartet attacks this music with passion and conviction. The players show us the flavor and variety of this music. In particular, the second quartet has some haunting moments, especially in the ghostly middle movement, and one can’t escape the impression that Prokofiev was presenting the horror of the times in which he lived when this music was written.

Here is a young quartet performing the Prokofiev Quartet #2, third movement:


Tags: Prokofiev, String quartet, Pavel Haas

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