Voices of Defiance

Voices of Defiance, the Dover Quartet’s second Cedille Records album, presents quartets of passion, hope, and resilience whose beauty defies the horrors that surrounded their creation.

“The young American string quartet of the moment” (The New Yorker) delivers an original, deeply felt program of three European composers’ distinctive responses to the destruction and despair of World War II. Czech composer Viktor Ullmann’s powerful String Quartet No. 3, written in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, draws inspiration from Debussy’s Impressionism and Schoenberg’s serialism. The ensemble’s muscular approach to Dmitri Shostakovich’s epic String Quartet No. 2 from 1944 emphasizes its tragic qualities, befitting the album’s theme. A captivating discovery for most listeners, Szymon Laks’s lyrical String Quartet No 3, written in 1945 following his evacuation from Auschwitz and liberation from Dachau, revels in folk melodies from his native Poland in contrasting scenes of heartbreak and ecstasy.

One of the most powerful new releases to cross my desk.
— David Allen, The New York Times
An illuminating voyage back to three unforgettable pieces written during World War II . . . undoubtedly one of the most compelling discs released this year
— Barbara Jepson, The Wall Street Journal
An intense slice of devastation . . . The group’s playing in all three works is plangent and rarefied.
— Charles T. Downey, The Classical Review
Dover Quartet’s technical artistry is a given, but there’s also that chamber quartet “X-factor” that can’t be forced. Undoubtedly, their ensemble synergy is luminous in this recording. These are historic compositions, and this recording is among the most important releases of this or any other year.
— Lewis J. Whittington, ConcertoNet
The Dover Quartet digs very deep in the music of Ullmann’s, Laks’s and Shostakovich’s quartets. The main work here, the Second Quartet by Shostakovich, is heard in a haunting performance, sending chills down the spine especially in the extremely dreary Romance. I can’t remember any other quartet playing this music like the ‘Dovers’ do.
— Remy Franck, Pizzicato


The Dover Quartet makes its recording debut with an all-Mozart album on Cedille Records honoring the soaring young ensemble’s illustrious teachers and coaches, the Guarneri Quartet.

The Dover’s debut album recalls the Guarneri’s own all-Mozart debut album on RCA Red Seal 50 years ago (1966),which featured Mozart’s final two string quartets — in B-Flat, K. 589, and F, K. 590. The Dover’s album on Cedille adds Mozart’s Quintet in C Minor, K. 406, performed with none other than Michael Tree, the Guarneri’s founding violist and one of the Dover’s most valued mentors.

This deeply affecting debut disc is a tribute to the renowned Guarneri Quartet, with whom the Dovers studied, and whose violist, Michael Tree, joins them in the third of three Mozart items: the great Quintet in C minor, which he adapted from his wind octet Serenade, K388. The other pieces — Mozart’s final string quartets, the second and third of his “Prussian” three, with their lyrically enhanced cello lines — are performed here with surpassing beauty, a glorious timbral richness governed by what feels a continuous thoughtfulness.
This is music-making not of the highest order but of the next order. On a number of occasions, I’ve remarked on how blessed we are to be living in a golden age of string playing. The Dover Quartet now takes that to the next level, platinum.
— Jerry Dubins, FANFARE
The Dover Quartet and Michael Tree get more out of this music than I can remember hearing in any previous performance. But they do it not by being different. One never feels that the music is being pushed or pulled to try to make it more exciting or more profound. They know exactly when to take their time . . . This is glorious music-making and I enjoyed every minute of it. May the Dover Quartt endure for 45 years, as their mentors in the Guarneri did before them.