15 November 2008 - THE MARTINU
Lubomír Havlák violin
Irena Herajnová violin
Jan Jía viola
Jitka Vlaánková violoncello
The Martinu Quartet first came together in 1976 at the Conservatoire
in Prague as students of Viktor Moucka a member of the Vlach Quartet.
During their studies at the Academy of Music, the members of the
Quartet continued to study under Antonin Kohout of the Smetana Quartet.
At the same time they took part in master classes with leading ensembles
such as the Tel Aviv, Amadeus, Guarneri, Juillard and Alban Berg
The Quartet took part in eight international competitions winning
prizes at each. Their most important successes were: Portsmouth
(Great Britain); The ARO Radio, Munich; Evian (France); The Prague
Originally called The Havlik Quartet after its leader, it changed
its name in honour of the composer, Bohuslav Martinu in 1985. The
Martinu Quartet has given concerts in most European countries; it
tours regularly the USA, Canada, Japan, England, Spain etc. It has
appeared at many international festivals and venues: They are frequent
guests of the Prague Spring Festival. The Martinu Quartet broadcasts
regularly on Czech radio and television and has made a number of
recordings for Radio France, the German ARD, Austrian ORF, The BBC
The Quartet's repertoire includes works from the mainstream of the
string quartet Literature.
Naturally, it specializes in the works of Czech composers such as
Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek, with particular interest in the works
of its namesake, Bohuslav Martinu (they have recorded Martinu's
String Quartets Nos. 1-7, Serenade II, Duo No. l for violin and
cello and Madrigals for violin and viola on CD for NAXOS).
A long established Czech quartet of the old school with the
kind of rich, heady sonority that provides profound satisfaction
on its own term
in Haydn's Op.74, No.3 there were chords of
such breathtaking resonance, so perfectly in tune The Globe
and Mail, Toronto
The Martinu Quartet interpretation is one of the best
Le Monde de la Musique
Splashes of brilliance and high spirited exuberance, without
sacrificing the richness of sound worthy of the best Czech quartets
of recent decades. Diapason, Paris
The homogeneity is unbelievable .... In performance,
as if wrapped in velvet, of Schubert's Quartet No 13
possible to hear four virtuoso players who respected each other
with rare empathy. If you have the possibility, dear reader, to
hear the Martinu Quartet, drop everything and for God's sake, go
to their concert! Luxemburger Wart
The Martinu Quartet gave a storming performance of Smetanas
String Quartet No. 1 in E minor. Hudebnf rozhledy
The Martinu String Quartet displayed not only their technical
mastery but also their ability to draw on the broad spectrum of
expression in Martinus Quartet No. 5 captivating the audience
with their forceful interpretation. which gathered momentum culminating
in the Finale. Lidove noviny
mellow tone, warm temperament, and virtuoso
technique...well balanced sonorities blossomed so effortlessly that
the music seemed to be playing itself...a rare pleasure from beginning
one of the highlights of the season.. The Plain
Handsome young musicians who play together magically
performance was perfection The Greenville News
was born in 1975 and studied the clarinet from the age of
seven with Colin Bradbury, then Principal of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
At sixteen he became a member of the National Youth Orchestra and
the National Youth Wind Orchestra, where he was co-leader for two
years. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music with
Richard Hosford, performing with the Contemporary Opera Studio of
the English National Opera and winning the Roger Fallows Prize for
After leaving the RCM, Angus has continued to forge a successful
freelance career, including two invitations to perform at the Brereton
International Music Symposium in Cheshire, hosted by Walter Boeykens
and Charles Neidich. In 1999 Angus was accepted onto the prestigious
Making Music Concert Promoters Network Scheme for 2001/2,
and has continued to develop a busy solo and recital career with
his duo partner Richard Saxel. As a Jellinek Award winner Angus
concerto performances include the Weber, Copland and Mozart concertos
in London, Cheltenham, Croydon and Guildford. He made his solo London
debut at the Purcell Room in November 2002 as part of the South
Bank Fresh Series, featuring a world premiere by the
young British composer Anthony Bailey.
Angus is strongly committed to music education, and is currently
Head of Woodwind at Cranleigh School in Surrey. He is also a consultant
for ArtsInsight, which offers workshops, masterclasses and musical
training to educational establishments across the UK and abroad.
Recent projects have included a visit to South Africa as the featured
classical artist on board the QE2, solo recitals at the International
Auditorium in the Canary Islands, a series of recitals and education
workshops in the Channel Islands, and tours to China and India with
the Amadeus Orchestra, featuring concerto performances of Mozarts
Sinfonia Concertante and Stravinskys Soldiers Tale with
the Naach Theatre Company in Mumbai under the auspices of the British
QUINTET in A major K.581 for clarinet
and string quartet W.A. MOZART (1756-1791)
QUARTET in F major op.96 ("American")
A. DVO?ÁK (1841-1904)
QUINTET in B minor op.115 for clarinet and string
quartet J. BRAHMS (1833-1897)
QUINTET in A major K.581 for clarinet and
string quartet W.A. MOZART (1756-1791)
Allegretto con Variazioni
In 1789, Mozart composed this Quintet for his friend Anton Stadler,
an excellent Viennese basset clarinettist and fellow freemason.
The basset clarinet was an instrument with an extended lower range,
and so today the music is most frequently heard played on the mellow-toned
'A 'clarinet (a slightly larger version of the standard 'B$' instrument).
To Anton Stadler, Mozart also dedicated his Clarinet Concerto in
A major, and an earlier and delightful Trio for clarinet, viola
and piano known as the Kegelstatt Trio.
In this Quintet, we hear straight away that Mozart has refused
to write a virtuoso piece for the clarinet accompanied by strings.
Similarly, he has resisted the tempation to compose a Quintet with
five equal parts - where the unique tone and character of the clarinet
might easily become obscurred. Here instead the composer has achieved
a perfect balance between the instruments - one in which the beauty
of the clarinet sound shines through the texture without dominating.
The structure of the first movement is essentially a simple one.
It follows the pattern of what is called 'sonata-form'. In the opening
bars, the four strings introduce a beautiful first theme. The clarinet
adds comments and its own colour to this tune. All the instruments
elaborate on various little melodic ideas until a second main theme
is introduced on the clarinet: The subsequent development of the
music and the eventual recapitulation sections at the end, are all
handled with charm and delicacy.
The Quintet's second movement, Larghetto, opens with a long, beautiful
song-like theme played on the clarinet above muted strings. There
follows a lovely dialogue between the clarinet and first violin.
Later in the movement, runs and scales feature prominently in the
music and the movement ends gently.
The third movement, a spritely Minuet, opens with the main theme
stated strongly by all the instruments. Rather unusually, this movement
has two contrasting 'Trio' sections - one for strings alone, and
the other (a perky waltz tune) played on the clarinet. Following
each 'Trio' section, the muisc of the opening Minuet is repeated,
giving the movement almost a Rondo feeling.
The Finale is made up of a set variations which are based on a
jaunty little theme heard right at the start as a dialogue between
the strings and clarinet: Each variation adds new or varied material,
and the whole Quintet ends with a sparkling coda.
QUARTET in F major op.96 ("American")
A. DVO?ÁK (1841-1904)
Allegro ma non troppo
Finale - Vivace ma non troppo
This quartet is justifiably one of Dvo?ák's most popular
chamber works. It was written in 1892 in the United States when
the compser was director of the American National Conservatory in
New York. It took the composer just six days to complete the work,
and there has always been some contention as to whether or not Dvo?ák
used native American folk tunes within it. It is now generally understood
however that, while the themes do have a distict folk 'feel' to
them, these melodies are actually the composer's own.
In the first movement, the main theme is introduced in the first
few bars on the viola, while a second more reflective tune on the
violin follows a few bars later. After a prolonged development section,
mainly based on the first of these themes, a final restatement of
both tunes is heard before an exciting climax.
The second movement (Lento) is largely on a beautifully lyrical
violin melody at the start, taken up later by the cello. The movement
gradually works to a climax before a gentle restatement of the main
theme, again on the cello, in the last few bars.
The short Scherzo (marked Molto Vivace) is said to have been influenced
by little fragments of birdsong which the composer may have heard
in the woodlands of Iowa. Whether this is true or not is uncertain,
but the little string figurations that are alluded to are interspersed
by some strong alternating dynamics in all the parts.
One musician has likened the gently pounding rhythm by the 2nd
violin and viola at the opening of the Finale to the pattern of
Indian drumming! Perhaps not an ideal description, but when the
first violin enters above it with a fast and cheerful little melody,
the scene is set for the movement: Many melodies are subsequently
developed and intertwoven during the following passages (which includes
a central chorale-like episode), and it all ends boyantly in a spirited
QUINTET in B minor op.115 for clarinet and
string quartet J. BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Andantino - Presto non assai
Like Mozart, Brahms composed his beautiful quintet for a renowned
clarinettist of his day. In Brahms' case, the musician was Richard
M?hfield - a clarinettist in the Meiningen orchestra. In common
with the Mozart Quintet, this work is performed on the 'A' clarinet
which adds to the texture a profound and mellow tone-colour. Interestingly,
both composers' works bear some striking similarities in their form.
For example, both pieces open with a passage by strings alone and
with the clarinet entering on an upward step-wise arppegio, and
both first movements are composed in 'sonata form'. However, from
that point on, the similarity is over.
Brahms wrote the Quintet, his two Sonatas for clarinet, and also
the Clarinet Trio (op.114) after he had officially retired from
composition. Richard M?hfield was almost certainly the inspiration
behind all of them, and the Quintet was first perfomed by him in
Berlin in 1891.
The main clarinet theme at the start of the first movement is one
which haunts the whole work, and appears again poinantly in the
final bars of the last movement. The whole range of the clarinet
is explored in the first movement, including the rich colours of
its lower register.
In the second movement (Adagio), the clarinet's opening theme is
taken up by the violin. But at a change of key, the clarinet embarks
on a 'fantasy' or 'rhapsodic'exchange with each of the stringed
instruments above a tremolo accompaniment. Following a repeat section,
the movement ends calmly and peacefully.
The Andantino is a movement built in two halves - the 'Presto'
section introducing a new key and quite a different atmosphere.
As a whole, this subtle movement is in complete contrast to the
intensity of the previous two, and it ends quietly in anticipation
of what is to come.
Again, in common with Mozart's Quintet, the final movement is a
set of variations built loosely around an opening theme by the strings:
Although we never hear this theme repeated in its original form
again, in the final bars we are re-introduced to memorable elements
of the main tune from the first movement. This is a delightful moment
where Brahms is at his most subtle, and brings the whole work to
a moving and peaceful end.