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Cat. No. CHAN 9769 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9769 - Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2
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Available From: 20 January 2000
Shostakovich’s first two string quartets had hardly prepare the public for the ‘symphonic’ weight of his Third String Quartet, on which work began in January 1946, after the completion of his Ninth Symphony. The innovative five-movement scheme was taken directly from both the Eighth and Ninth Symphonies. The work begins in a sunny F major, but the second movement enters with a jolt in E minor, setting an unsettled mood in which continues throughout the quartet, and although it finishes in a stable F major, it is not a happy ending. It was first performed in December 1946 by the Beethoven Quartet.

It is not surprising that the intimate medium of the string quartet should become a vehicle for the composer’s deepest feelings during the difficult years of cultural quarantine imposed on him by the Soviet authorities until 1953. (Shostakovich had already developed a special relationship with the Borodin Quartet, who performed it privately in 1950).

The Eleventh String Quartet (completed in 1966 and dedicated to the late second violinist of the Beethoven Quartet) marks a transition into the darker world of the composer’s late string quartets. At its emotional centre is an Elegy in funeral march style. After his break from the classical four-movement scheme, Shostakovich was becoming more interested in the idea of multi-movement unity-in-continuity. Here is a suite-like assembly of miniature character pieces shaped into a larger cyclic whole which becomes the sum of its parts.

…these interpretations have a cumulative intensity that draws one in to the composers confessional world.
The Daily Telegraph


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