Janáček – String Quartets nos. 1 and 2


Two string quartets that were composed by request of the Bohemian Quartet in 1923. Both were premiered by different quartets, in 1923 and 1928 respectively. They both have nicknames, at least one of them given by the composer himself. The first is called Kreutzer Sonata. It took that title from a book of the same title by Tolstoy, who in turn got it from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, after the french violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer.

The second title is Intimate letters: another love letter to his 38 years younger married infatuation Kamila Stösslová.

You stand behind every note, you, living, forceful, loving. The fragrance of your body, the glow of your kisses – no, really of mine. Those notes of mine kiss all of you. They call for you passionately…

I wrote about this sad story earlier, and then kind of forgot about it. Reading about it again makes me feel sad for the poor Janáček. He must have been hit by Cupid’s arrow in a terrible way.

At the time of this recording the primarius (first violin) of the Janáček Quartet was Jiří Trávníček. He was a connection to the composer because of his teacher František Kudláček used to be a member of the Moravian Quartet that performed the premiere in 1928. I don’t know if it is because of that, but I do think this is the standard performance of the work that is still available. It is a joy to listen to this. More’s the pity that somehow the record company neglected to make it available on Spotify.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *