Si vous pensez que le monde du quatuor à cordes est une terre étrangère, que cette musique est réservée à des mélomanes cérébraux, précipitez-vous sur ce "tour d'Europe du quatuor en 3 heures" pétri d'intelligence. De 1798 (Beethoven) à 1945 (Laks), le quatuor Szymanovski y déploie son savoir-faire et sa musicalité, prenant pour prétexte les climats musicaux qui baignèrent les pérégrinations européennes de son compositeur tutélaire. A "Paris" les influences folkloriques et les textures diaphanes, à "Vienne" les révolutions sémantiques, à "Moscou" l'émergence du néo-classicisme. Quelle importance si pour chaque œuvre il vient à l'esprit telle ou telle version de référence ? Sans pathos, sans effets d'estrade, toutes les œuvres émergent ici dans une clarté éblouissante. Dès les premières notes du Nocturne op.28 de Szymanovski, on est happé et on pense "quelle sonorité idéale pour le 20ème siècle d'Europe Centrale !" mais voici Beethoven et Schubert, voilà Tchaïkovski, qui fonctionnent aussi bien : quelle maîtrise des styles ! Seule la texture du quatuor de Ravel paraît leur résister un peu... alors commencez par "Vienne", une merveille qui culmine avec le chant d'Andrej Bielow dans le mouvement de quatuor de Webern, bouleversant : une formidable leçon de musique. (Olivier Eterradossi)
In 1995 we founded the Szymanowski Quartet with a clear purpose: to celebrate the legacy of one of Poland’s greatest composers. Karol Szymanowski is often referred to in Poland as the country’s first “modern composer” and, indeed, he truly introduced a new era in Polish music history. Szymanowski’s techniques and means of musical expression were further developed and placed in new contexts by significant 20th-century composers such as Lutoslawski and Penderecki. While we were still children, and later on as music students, we were always taught how important Szymanowski had been to Polish music. We also learned about his travels to other European countries, and about the musical discoveries he made there. Throughout our career as a quartet, while studying, rehearsing and performing works written by the likes of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Ravel, Tchaikovsky or Shostakovich, we gradually started noticing a deeper connection running between Szymanowski’s music – his quartets – and the great masterworks written by other European composers. We started grasping the extent to which Szymanowski’s trips throughout Europe, coupled with his particular open-mindedness towards musics and cultures of other countries, bore a profound influence on his own compositions. After more than ten years of attentive study and joint concert performances of Szymanowski’s music and of the other outstanding works of string quartet repertoire, we have come to appreciate him more than ever as one of early 20th century Europe’s most fascinating composers. In this series of three CD’s, we would like to invite you to embark with us on a journey to the three most important music centres of Europe in the early 1900’s: Paris, Vienna and Moscow. On this musical tour we will present you with works by musicians who were very popular when Szymanowski travelled through Europe, along with certain composers whose influence on his music was direct. We have also stumbled upon a series of fascinating, unusual compositions such as Szymon Laks’s Third String Quartet which, although written after Szymanowski’s death, is still connected to the same roots.. (Grzegorz Kotów).