CD review: Piano Quartets by Dvorak & Suk

First published in the Guardian on 20 July, 2017

Dvorak/Suk: Piano Quartets
Josef Suk Piano Quartet (Supraphon)

There’s lineage here: when Josef Suk signed up for composition lessons with Anton Dvorak at the Prague Conservatory in the 1880s, he landed himself not just a mentor but also a father-in-law (he would marry Otilie Dvorak in 1898). Suk wrote his First Piano Quartet under Dvorak’s tutelage in 1890; Dvorak wrote his own Second Quartet around the same time, and one is as youthful and excitable as the other is mature and assured. There are obvious links in the sturdy, earthy sweep of the themes and the intense dialogue between the instruments and both have slow movements of big-hearted beauty. The Josef Suk Piano Quartet is named after the violinist (1929-2011) who was grandson of the composer Suk (and great-grandson of Dvorak); they play with huge sound, loving detail and the kind of conviction and authority that comes from personal connection.