Tchaikovsky – String Quartet Vol. 1
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Tchaikovsky – String Quartet Vol. 1

There’s the Tsarist Tchaikovsky, the Soviet Tchaikovsky, the nationalist and the bourgeois Tchaikovsky, there’s the Tchaikovsky of the biographies, the Tchaikovsky of the musicologists, right up to the modern LGBT Tchaikovsky … and there’s the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, sitting in a rehearsal room to say something that is musically sincere. Something real.’

So writes Dutch writer and philosopher Maxim Februari in an essay commissioned by the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam. This text, self-published by the Dudoks and distributed among to audiences of their concerts this season, accompanies and enlightens their exploration of Tchaikovsky’s string quartets. In 2024, the Quartet will release two albums for Rubicon Classics encompassing his complete works fors string quartet. The first installment is out on April 26.

Tchaikovsky – Making Waves

Check out the fist video clip for our album Tchaikovsky – String Quartets Vol. I: Making Waves

Listen or pre-order here or more info here.

 

Tchaikovsky – Golden Days

Here is the second video clip for our album Tchaikovsky – String Quartets Vol. I: Golden Days!

Listen or pre-order here or more info here

Tchaikovsky – On Fire

Check out the third and final video clip for our album Tchaikovsky – String Quartets Vol. I: On Fire

Listen or pre-order here or more info here

Tchaikovsky was, and in so many ways still is, a cult figure whose genius and artistry has been somewhat obscured by his celebrity status and the worldwide popularity of ‘Brand Tchaikovsky’ embodied in his symphonies, operas and ballet music. So the Dudok Quartet is on a mission to reveal new meaning to these quartets, to make them both fresh and relevant to 21st century audiences.

The first String Quartet was premiered in 1871 and met with widespread popular acclaim, especially for the Andante Cantabile movement which took on a life of its own. In the following few years, the sheet music was in exceptionally high demand and there were concert performances in Berlin, Boston, Kyiv, London and Paris as well as Moscow and St Petersburg.

The second String Quartet, a few years later in 1873, was virtually written in just one sitting – ‘no other piece has poured forth from me so simply and easily’ – but is nevertheless the least known. The musing first movement, the scherzo, the anguished slow movement and the exuberant finale are reminiscent of a small chamber opera, inspiring  Dudok cellist, David Faber, to arrange Lensky’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s opera Evgeny Onegin to conclude this first volume.

With every project they initiate, the Dudoks commit themselves to exploring the true nature of the music and the worlds that underpin the score. Having established their early reputation with recording projects of thought-provoking pairings and collections of mixed repertoire, they changed direction in 2017 to also include single composer studies.  This Tchaikovsky set follows on from two volumes of Haydn’s string quartets and a Brahms double album. Their fascination with Tchaikovsky travels a thread back to the Russian classical music canon via their teacher Marc Danel whose Danel Quartet was the first European quartet to study in Moscow with the legendary Borodin Quartet.  This is music that probes the eternal depths of the human soul – sorrow and joy, despair and hope, universal experiences that everyone recognizes.

And so, back to Februari’s essay entitled Everything changes and Tchaikovsky Changes along with it: like today’s audience in the concert hall, “the quartet has to reconcile these temporalities and eternities, give gravity to lightness and bring lightness to gravity. And all that preferably without being too pretentious. That’s quite a task .”

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