WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART String Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 589, "Prussian"
The three quartets that Mozart wrote in 1789-1790 for the cello-playing Prussian monarch Friedrich Wilhelm II are his last and among his finest contributions to the genre. Roughly contemporaneous with the comic opera Così fan tutte and the Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, the "Prussian" Quartets combine elegance, wit, and virtuosity. Bravura writing for both the first violin and the cello gives the B-flat-Major Quartet an extra measure of sparkle.
PAVEL FISCHER String Quartet No. 3, "Mad Piper"
True to his roots in what is now the Czech Republic, composer and violinist Pavel Fischer draws on a wide range of Moravian and other Eastern and Western European folk traditions in his three string quartets. The third, subtitled "Mad Piper," memorializes a Scottish soldier who risked his life on D-Day in 1944 by landing unarmed on a Norman beach and playing highland tunes on his bagpipes to bolster the morale of invading British forces.
ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, "American"
In the mid-1890s, Dvořák spent parts of three years in the United States as director of the National Conservatory in New York City. During that happy period, he composed the "New World" Symphony, as well as a pair of chamber works that inevitably acquired the nickname "American": the String Quartet in F Major, Op. 96, and the String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97. The former, written during an idyllic summer sojourn in Iowa, has long been one of the Bohemian composer's most popular works.