“Ullmann, Shostakovich, Laks: String Quartets”
|Simon Laks||String Quartet No. 3.|
|Dmitri Shostakovich||String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 68.|
|Viktor Ullmann||String Quartet No. 3, Op. 46.|
Voices of Defiance, the Dover Quartet’s second Cedille Records album, presents quartets of passion, hope, and resilience whose beauty defies the horrors that surrounded their creation.
“The young American string quartet of the moment” (The New Yorker) delivers an original, deeply felt program of three European composers’ distinctive responses to the destruction and despair of World War II. Czech composer Viktor Ullmann’s powerful String Quartet No. 3, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, draws inspiration from Debussy’s Impressionism and Schoenberg’s serialism. The ensemble’s muscular approach to Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic String Quartet No. 2 from 1944 emphasizes its tragic qualities, befitting the album’s theme. A captivating discovery for most listeners, Szymon Laks’s lyrical String Quartet No 3, written in 1945 following his evacuation from Auschwitz and liberation from Dachau, revels in folk melodies from his native Poland in contrasting scenes of heartbreak and ecstasy.
Winner of a 2017 Avery Fisher Career Grant and the first prize and all special prizes awarded at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, this “terrific quartet” (National Post) brings its “confident, sinewy playing of distinctive sound and ample nuance” to this recording of profound 20th century masterworks.