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PETER LUNDIN listens to the
'undesired' quartets of Pavel Haas


<< Continued from page 2

The String Quartet No. 2, op 7 (1925) is subtitled 'Z opic'ch hor' (From the mountains of the monkey - from a local expression used to depict the mountain range outside Brno) . Haas scored this second quartet for four strings and 'jazz band', the jazz band actually consisting only of percussion. The overall form of this quartet could easily be described as a chamber tone poem. Each of the four movements have been given pictorially descriptive names - 'Landscape', 'Horse, cart and driver', 'The moon and I' and 'A wild night' [listen - track 5, 0:00 - 1:00] that resound in the music. Unintentionally, it is close to the film music of Korngold. The Kocian's recording is billed as the première of the original version. Haas revised the quartet by removing the percussion part, due to unfavourable coments at the première in 1926.

Musically, Haas remains in a Bohemian tradition, with the teachings of Janácek noticeable in that Haas integrates melodic material from local folk music. The playing is adequate - I mostly disagree with the quartet on how fast an andante should be played. I fear that both the first and second movements (marked accordingly) are paced a shade too slowly. For instance, the pictured birds (first movement) sound like they have a cold. The fourth movement ad-lib percussion part (played by Svatopluk Cech and Martin Kopriva) neither works with or against the strings. I guess (not having a score available) that this is due to a combination of undefined writing and players without a final view of the music. What we have here is unfortunately quite lame and in no way resembles the 'frantic rumba' Haas asks for. In the booklet Haas's own description of the quartet is quoted as 'carefree and dominated by movement'. I feel quite reserved towards the Kocian's interpretation of this quartet. Throughout they play on the safe side and the poor integration of the 'Jazz-band' in the fourth movement does not help their case.

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Copyright © 10 June 2000 Peter Lundin, Gothenburg, Sweden






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