The Škampa Quartet is among the very finest of an outstanding group of current Czech string quartets that has represented their country in major Concert Halls around the world for twenty five years.
Through their mentors, the legendary Smetana Quartet, they trace their roots to the earliest quartets - such as the Bohemian Quartet - in a land described in the 18th century as the Conservatoire of Europe and that remains, to this day, the very cradle of European Chamber Music.
To this innate musicality they have added their own particular research to inform their understanding of the folk-song and poetry, rhythms and dance from which their native music grew - to the extent that their recordings of the quartets by Janacek and Smetana particularly are quoted as the bench-marks against which other performances are judged.
Dazzling performance by Škampa Quartet at Accordate Concert in Aachen, 20 January 2013
On the program works by Josef Suk, Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana. Dvořák’s favourite pupil and son-in-law Suk was represented by a short Meditation on an old Bohemian Choral in which the Škampa Quartet held the audience in trance by an exemplary variation and ever changing timbres.
Dvořák's later quartets are not very popular on the concert platform. Also the G major Quartet Op. 106 is far from easy-on-the-ear. But performed by the Škampa Quartet it overwhelms by the sheer force of expression, the intensity of tone-colour and the technical perfection. Here every phrase is exciting, dynamically well-differentiated and perfectly balanced in tone. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that here four equally able musicians meet who combine professional expertness with a clearly visible joy of making music.
It goes without saying that this intensive approach also contributed to a meaningful rendition of Smetana's First Quartet in E minor "From my Life". This happened in such a forceful way that a cello string broke just before the beginning of the tinnitus tone which Smetana wove into this quartet as a first sign of his approaching deafness. The inevitable break was bridged by viola player Radim Sedmidubský's explanation of the work in perfect German..An spirited "Karpatska" by former quartet member Pavel Fischer was offered as an extra.