Cypress Quartet Captures the Ever-So-Moody Dvorak

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The Cypress String Quartet has released more than a dozen albums since its founding in San Francisco in 1996. But it hasn’t recorded the set of pieces from which it takes its name — until now.

That work is Dvorak's Cypresses, a cycle of twelve lush miniatures composed when the composer, then 24, was smitten with unrequited love for a 16-year-old pupil (he ended up marrying her younger sister). Lush and tuneful, the pieces illustrate various aspects of unrequited love, from the melancholic “I Know That On My Love” to the anxious “Death Reigns” to the buoyant “You Are My Glorious Rose.” Throughout various instruments take the lead with the melody, often with beguiling directness and simplicity.

The album also features the String Quartet No. 13 in G Major, characterized as Dvorak’s ode to thanksgiving for having returned to his native Bohemia. Listen to how the scherzo movement includes a skocna (a spring folk dance) and how the finale is reminiscent of a dumka, as it moves from a slow introduction to a fiery main section.

The Cypress was at WQXR in 2011 for a Café Concert. Read more about the group’s eventful history and watch the video below.

Dvorak: Cypresses and G Major Quartet
Cypress String Quartet
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