Stereophile: The 5th Element #80 (excerpt)

Source: Stereophile, July 2013
posted online August 8, 2013
by John Marks

First, two noteworthy CDs. San Francisco's Cypress String Quartet, whose set of Beethoven's late quartets and high-resolution downloads I praised in the April issue, is back with a new CD (Avie AV2275) that explores their musical roots. The quartet takes its name from Anton°n Dvorák's early cycle of 18 love songs, Cypresses, which he composed in 1865, between his first and second symphonies. (The title is meant to evoke barren solitude.) Later in his career (1887), Dvorák transcribed 12 of the Cypresses songs for string quartet alone.

One word that often crops up in discussions of Dvorák's music is charming. While these transcriptions are indeed charming, they don't lack depth of feeling—it's just that youthful romantic passion has now been refracted through a lifetime of experience. Listening to these performances, I got the impression that Josefína Cermáková, who inspired Dvorák's love songs, might have had the same place in Dvorák's emotional life and development as a composer that the young soprano Johanna Richter later had for Mahler. "The little one that got away," perhaps.

Read the complete article here.