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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

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).

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

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