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Cat. No. CHAN 10329 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10329 - Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 6
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Available From: 08 August 2005
The string quartet was to become for Shostakovich a life-long commitment, a semi-autobiographical medium for the expression of his most intimate feelings, yet his first quartet was begun in an almost casual spirit of relaxation after the creative effort that had gone into the making of his Symphony No. 5.This approach to chamber music as a ‘light’, domestic genre was in keeping with a tradition in Russian music that had given more importance to orchestral and vocal/operatic genres, and it also reflected the renewed, Soviet emphasis on the doctrine of ‘Socialist Realism’ which stressed the importance of ‘content’ over ‘form’. According to the composer, he wanted to express ‘spring-like moods’ in String Quartet No. 1,Op. 49, the only one of his quartets in C major. The four movements are shaped and ordered according to classical precedent. A songful, tenderly reflective first movement is followed by variations on a folk-like theme in A minor, and a muted scherzo in the surprising key of C sharp minor, before a boisterous and highly concentrated sonata-allegro brings the quartet to a close in a manner that recalls the Prokofiev of the Classical Symphony. The Piano Quintet, Op. 57 was written for the composer to play with the Beethoven Quartet. Its five-movement

layout was to prove a favourite scheme with the composer in both quartet and symphony, but despite its scale it is neither strenuous nor disturbing; its moods are essentially contemplative, genial and lyrical. String Quartet No. 12, Op. 133 is a symphony in all but name; at the time of its UK premiere there were claims that Shostakovich had modelled the work on Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony. In this quartet tonality and atonality, consonance and the most extreme dissonance are set against each other in a symbolic struggle for ascendance, presenting a (consciously intended on the part of the composer?) Beethovenian scenario in which the world of high ideals finally triumphs over the powers of darkness.

They are up against formidable competition but their playing and their understanding of the music equals that of their international rivals.
Gramophone on Vol. 5

…these interpretations have a cumulative intensity that draws one into the composer’s 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.
The Sunday Telegraph on Vol. 3

Atonality and tonality fight it out in the tremendous No. 12, played here with immense authority and skill. More genial is the popular Piano Quintet of 1940 in which Martin Roscoe joins the quartet in an invigorating performance.
The Sunday Telegraph

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 s
Classic FM Magazine ‘Record of the Year 1999 – Modern’ on Vol. 1

Martin Roscoe and the Sorrels offer a dynamic and intense performance with Roscoe bringing marvellous shape and colour to the piano part.
BBC Music Magazine

The Sorrel’s traversal of the Shostakovich quartets concludes with the present disc – a fitting end to the most rewarding cycle of recent years. One of its most positive features has been the ensemble’s ability to convey the character of each work, and these very different quartets are no exception…. With a recording up to the standard of previous issues, and a useful note from Eric Roseberry, this disc is no less desirable that its predecessors…
International Record Review


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