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Cat. No. CHAN 10114 Price: £5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10114 - Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 4
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Available From: 15 September 2003
"Shostakovich’s Second String Quartet in A major marks the composer’s real beginning as a writer of string quartets. In contrast to its slight predecessor it is a substantial work and formally speaking very much an essay that builds on classical precedent without any hint of parody. Shostakovich’s most recent symphony had been the weighty and tragic Eighth and it was not until the writing of the Third Quartet that he began to imbue the genre with the dark intensity already characteristic of the symphonies. Despite its darker moments, this is the assured quartet of a master musician, couched in a key, which, in the classical repertoire, has sunny associations.

On the face of it, the Fourteenth Quartet in three movements will perhaps seem more conventional than its immediate predecessors, both of which are highly innovative in form, style and content.The present quartet continues the line of late works dedicated to individual members of the Beethoven Quartet, being dedicated to the cellist, Sergei Shirinksy. The work ‘speaks’ to its dedicatee through its heightened virtuoso cello role and, in the last movement, by using a theme said to derive from the cellist’s name. Shostakovich also addresses Shirinsky directly through a quote from the final scene of the composer’s opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (‘Seryozha, my dear’). This is characteristic of a composer who, from the Eighth String Quartet onwards, became addicted to pitch ciphers and frequent self-quotation.

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Reviews

What sets the Sorrel Quartet apart on this recording is their hotline to the heart of the music, to an extent that is remarkable for a non-Russian quartet. The mood-swings between sober tragedy and whimsical irony, the manic dances of death, the haunted spaciousness and exploding fury – its all here, and the result is as overwhelming as it is moving.
Classic FM Magazine ‘Record of the Year 1999 – Modern’ on Vol. 1

…these interpretations have a cumulative intensity that draws one into the composers confessional world.
The Daily Telegraph on Vol. 2

The Sorrel… reinforce their claim to be one of the best British quartets of today… Recording quality is superb.
Sunday Telegraph on Vol. 3

Another strong instalment in the Sorrels series produces a rewarding experience.
Gramophone

'Another strong instalment in the Sorrel's series produces a rewarding experience.'
Gramophone

'…numerous subsequent ensembles have opened out the performing tradition in new and unexpected ways - not least the Sorrel Quartet, whose excellent traversal continues with this hitherto untried pairing of works from either end of the cycle. Cordially recommended then, with the final volume in this series keenly awaited.'
International Record Review

'The Sorrel play it with understanding and virtuosity which have characterised this cycle so far.'
The Sunday Telegraph

…numerous subsequent ensembles have opened out the performing tradition in new and unexpected ways - not least the Sorrel Quartet, whose excellent traversal continues with this hitherto untried pairing of works from either end of the cycle. Cordially recommended then, with the final volume in this series keenly awaited.
International Record Review

 

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