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CD Review: Cecilia String Quartet's début Dvorák album is pure joy in a jewel case

By John Terauds on March 28, 2012

CECILIA STRING QUARTET
Dvorák, Quartet Op. 106, 5 Cypresses, 2 Waltzes (Analekta)

Pure musical joy is the best way to describe the début recording by a notable young Canadian chamber ensemble, the Cecilia String Quartet.

Violinists Min-Jeong Koh and Sarah Nematallah, violist Caitlin Boyle and cellist Rachel Desoer achieve that magical balance of poise and passion, dynamic adventure and internal balance in an album-full of treats by Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904).

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

Some of the pieces — two Op. 54 Waltzes and six Cypresses — are pure expressions of young love rendered in late-Roantic harmonies and beautifully interwoven string textures. The anchor on the disc is the impeccably structured, serious String Quartet No. 13 in C Minor, from 1895, whose second-movement Adagio has to be one of the most achingly gorgeous bits of chamber music ever written.

Throughout, the Cecilias give the music its full due. Their pianissimo playing is particularly clear and penetrating.

The whole disc, which was recorded at Koerner Hall, is worthy of long, succulent savouring, over and over.

For all the album details, as well as audio samples, click here.

Note that the Cecilias present a rich recital programme on Thursday afternoon for the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto at University of Toronto’s Walter Hall at 1:30 p.m.

They will play: Mozart’s String Quartet No. 16 in E Flat major, K. 428; String Quartet Op. 108 No. 7, by Dmitri Shostakovich; Ludwig van Beethoven’s F Major String Quartet No. 16, Op. 135; Giacomo Puccini’s Crisantemi; and Commedia dell’arte, by Montreal-based composer Ana Sokolovic.

For all the concert details, and for tickets, click here.

Here’s the promotional video for the Cecilias’ début album:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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