String Quartets II
String Quartet No. 3
String Quartet No. 2 Intimate Letters (Version with viola d'amore)
String Quartet No. 1 Kreutzer Sonata
String Quartet No. 4
Leoš Janáček’s two string quartets were written in 1923 and 1928, respectively – the latter being the year of the composer’s death. Both works parted from the field of absolute music, of which the string quartet was the epitome. During work on his String Quartet No. 1, Janáček was inspired by a novella by Leo Tolstoi: “I had the unhappy, tortured, beaten and slain wife in mind, just as the Russian author depicts her in his book Kreutzer Sonata”, the composer wrote a year after completing the work.
Janáček’s String Quartet No. 2, Intimate Letters, on the other hand emerged not from a literary source, but rather from one of the composer’s amorous experiences: The work is an homage to the almost forty-year younger, married Kamila Stösslová who Janáček had already met in 1915 and for whom he harboured an (unrequited) passion until his death.
The French-based Quatour Diotima, according to Gramophone magazine “one of the five string quartet ensembles that one should know”, places Janáček’s two quartets in the context of two compositions by Béla Bartók: the expressionist String Quartet No.3, which was composed in 1927, and String Quartet No.4, which was composed the following year (at the same time as Janáček’s Second) and in which Bartók formally broke new ground. A simultaneously varied and exciting contribution to the cyclical performance of all of Bartók’s string quartets performed at Musikfest Berlin 2013.