by Daniel Hathaway
For their second appearance on the Cleveland Chamber Music Society series at Plymouth Church on April 8, the Pavel Haas Quartet scheduled two riveting twentieth-century works, Leos Janáček’s Quartet No. 1 and Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 2, followed by Beethoven’s “middle period” Quartet in e, op. 59, no. 2.
Founded in 2002 in Prague, the Haas Quartet retains two of its founding members, first violinist Veronika Jarůšková and violist Pavel Nikl. In an amusing swap soon afterward, the Haas Quartet traded cellists with the Škampa Quartet, thus musically reuniting Jarůšková with her husband, Peter Jarůšek. Second violinist Marek Zwiebel joined the ensemble in 2012, becoming the fourth person to occupy that position.
Changes in personnel are worth mentioning if only to marvel at the unanimity of approach such a quartet as the Pavel Haas can maintain as players come and go. Among the ensemble’s distinguishing characteristics is a visceral intensity that can be hair-raising in aggressive music but sustains itself even in quieter passages, along with finely managed dynamics and smooth, even crescendos and diminuendos. Read the rest of this entry »