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Shostakovich: Quartets 9-12 / Weinberg: Quartet 6 Double CD

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Frequently Bought Together

Shostakovich: Quartets 9-12 / Weinberg: Quartet 6 + Schnittke: The Soviet Experience Volume IV  [Pacifica Quartet] [Cedille: CDR 90000 145] + Shostakovich: The Soviet Experience Vol. I (String Quartet, No. 5-8 / String Quartet, No. 13)
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Product details

  • Composer: Dimitri Shostakovich, Mieczyslaw Weinberg
  • Audio CD (2 April 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Cedille
  • ASIN: B00B5UBFPI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,396 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Product Description

This is the third instalment in the Pacifica Quartet’s highly anticipated, and already highly acclaimed four-volume CD survey of the complete Shostakovich string quartets: The Soviet Experience: String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and his Contemporaries.

It is the first Shostakovich quartet cycle to include works by other important composers of the Soviet era, adding variety and perspective to the listening experience.

This superbly performed series of audiophile recordings, produced and engineered by multiple Grammy Award winner Judith Sherman, will appeal to everyone interested in great Russian music of the 20th century.

The Pacifica’s previous instalment, The Soviet Experience Volume II, received an extraordinary reception from critics. “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal, bringing new dimensions of interpretative depth and a subtle fusion of intensity and clarity. . . . When the series is complete, it looks set to be the one to own” (The Telegraph).

Review

One of the distinguishing features of the Pacifica's series of Shostakovich string quartets is that each of the two-disc sets has contained a work by another Russian composer that offers stylistic contrast and broadens our knowledge of 20th-century Russian chamber music. The first volume of The Soviet Experience (CDR 90000 127), with Shostakovich's Quartets Nos 5-8, included Myaskovsky's No 13 of 1949; the second (CDR 90000 130) coupled Shostakovich s Nos 1-4 with Prokofiev's No 2 of 1941. This third volume covers the Shostakovich quartets Nos 9-12 and brings with it the Sixth Quartet that Mieczyslaw (known in Russian as Moysey) Weinberg wrote in 1946 and, after being proscribed during the Zhdanov restrictions of 1948, seems not to have had a public performance until 2007. While it must have been hard for any Soviet composer to escape the influence of Shostakovich, Weinberg for the most part manages to do so. There are certain similarities of accent between the two musical languages, but Weinberg s way of voicing his ideas testifies to individuality. There are conflicts in the music at times coupled with clouds of brooding, but its blacklisting in 1948 seems as unduly harsh as it was in other cases. Having been gripped by the Pacifica's live performance of the complete Shostakovich canon, I am glad to have these permanent records of interpretations that strike at the heart of the music, defining the distinctiveness of each quartet and conveying the substance with subtlety, polish and a finely judged spectrum of expression. ***** --Telegraph, 07/06/13

The Pacifica does justice to what is arguably Shostakovich's finest single quartet, and is equally inside the idiom of Weinberg's Sixth Quartet(1946) chosen to round off the programme. --IRR, July/ Aug'13

This is Vol. 3 in Cedille's The Soviet Experience series. The previous two discs have received welcoming reviews elsewhere, with adjectives like electrifying and definitive . The latest instalment, the bulk of which is taken up with Shostakovich's Quartets Nos. 9-12, is well up to standard with intensely concentrated playing, first-class ensemble, a strikingly wide range of dynamic and a remarkably consistently depth of feeling. --Gramophone, Aug'13

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Absolutely top-notch playing and recording in my view. The Weinberg a first time for me. I enjoyed it but as with the extras on the earlier volumes, it shows clearly why Shostakovich was more than a step or two ahead of the rest. I await the fourth and final instalment almost with bated breath, in part because this is so fine; in part, because I'm a fan of Schnittke!! It's not reached Montevideo yet, however!
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These are exciting pieces reflecting the relationship between 2 composers, Shostakovich and Weinberg. They sparked off
each other which is why the collection of quartets is so varied. They come from a repressive period in the Soviet Union and had to wait quite a while before they could be performed in public. All the more interesting for that. I recommend for those who enjoy more innovative classical music.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lance Edwards on 29 Dec. 2013
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I had all but the early set of Shostakovich quartets on Regis (with the Shostakovich Quartet). These are old Olympia recordings and I was tempted by the new Pacifica Quartet ones, especially this disc with the Weinberg Quartet included. It is excellent - very well if not perfectly recorded and played as if by a Russian Quartet. Perhaps a little less abandoned than the earlier quartet. Go ahead and buy it, as I did. However, instead of buying the other Pacifica CDs at premium prices, I decided to buy the recordings missing from my Regis set for less than the price of one more Pacifica CD. I just feel the older quartet cannot be beaten and the recordings are generally very impressive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Another great entry in an important string quartet series 21 Jun. 2013
By Dean Frey - Published on Amazon.com
This is the third set in the Pacifica Quartet's excellent series The Soviet Experience, which connects groups of Shostakovich string quartets with other Soviet string quartets. The Quartet is now up to the mid-1960s in their Shostakovich cycle: the pair of #9 and #10 date from 1964, while #11 was written in 1966 and #12 in 1968. The Pacifica Quartet are outstanding in these works, and they provide a strong case as well for the sixth quartet of Mieczslaw Weinberg, written in 1948.

The greatest work on these two discs is the twelfth quartet, which is special for musical and biographical reasons. Shostakovich uses atonality throughout the piece, and sets a grim mood with his opening theme, which contains all twelve, unrepeated, notes of the chromatic scale. Before an uncharacteristically optimistic ending, Shostakovich provides his usual jocular, sarcastic episodes, alternating with almost mystical periods that make reference to late Beethoven. High marks to the Pacifica Quartet for keeping all of this in hand. Knowing the circumstances of Shostakovich's life at the time, especially relating to his health, adds a tragic dimension to the music.

Kudos to Cedille for this fascinating series, providing the Pacifica Quartet a platform for a vital new Shostakovich series while adding context with important works by other Soviet composers. I've learned a lot from the excellent notes by David Fanning, and love the evocative posters used on the CD covers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Solid Soviet String Quartets 31 July 2013
By Due Fuss - Published on Amazon.com
An excellent addition to the "The Soviet Experience" series by the superb Pacifica Quartet. These are astute and poignant interpretations of these quartets that equal the benchmark recordings by the Borodin Quartet. The engineering is sensitive and well-balanced, the cover design is elegant, and the liner notes are informative. Bravo!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Pacifica's Shostakovich Not Wholly Satisfying 9 Mar. 2014
By Tom J. Godell - Published on Amazon.com
In Shostakovich's String Quartets the allegros almost always seem on the verge of spiraling out of control, like the merry-go-round at the end of Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Meanwhile the slow passages manifest a sinister quality that will have you constantly looking over your shoulder to see if the KGB is watching. Spend half an hour with any of these masterworks, and you'll have a good idea what life in the Soviet Union must have been like, especially for sensitive creative artists like Alexander Solzhenitsyn or Dmitri Shostakovich. Woe betide any ensemble that dares give a half-hearted or understated performance of this harrowing music!

My initial reaction to this release was quite positive. Listening to Quartet 9, I was impressed by the Pacifica Quartet's ability to walk the tightrope between control and chaos in this mercurial score, not to mention their undeniable athleticism, intensity and commitment. Cedille's vivid, visceral recorded sound only enhanced this impression. But then I put on the 1965 recording by the Beethoven Quartet. This distinguished ensemble gave the premiere performance of the 9th (and all the other Shostakovich quartets, save his first). Their authority and confidence in this repertory has never been matched by any other group.

While the Pacifica Quartet plays the 9th Quartet adequately and even admirably, the Beethovens attack this music mercilessly.Compared to Pacifica, the Beethoven Quartet's tempos are faster, their accents more violent, their tone more strident, and the recorded sound more claustrophobic--all of which serves Shostakovich's acerbic writing splendidly.There's never a dull moment in any of the Beethoven's recordings, where every single note has a deep emotional resonance. This is especially true in the slow movements, which tend to ramble and lack focus in Pacifica's hands.

The Beethoven Quartet also handles tempo relationships with exceptional skill. Consider, for example, Quartet 11, which is essentially a single movement cast in seven contrasting sections, played without pause. Beethoven splendidly captures the the work's cinematic qualities while ensuring that each section builds organically upon the last. Pacifica does well in the opening portions of the score, though their Scherzo is playful rather than demonic. But the Elegy and Postlude seem sluggish, and little is made of the contrasting tempos (adagio then moderato) specified by the composer.

The real gem here is the little-known Sixth Quartet of Mieczslaw Weinberg dating from 1946 that fills out the second disc. Perhaps befitting the exuberance of the immediate post-war period, Weinberg's style is far more romantic and lyrical than Shostakovich's. There are many striking themes and dramatic developments here along with tantalizing hints of Prokofiev and Khachaturian. Moreover the joyous exuberance of this music seems far more suited to the Pacifica's style than the bitterness and ennui of Shostakovich. Let's hope that this fine ensemble gives us more Weinberg in the near future.
Splendid perfomances 6 Nov. 2014
By Jeffrey Huntington - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
These are superb performances by one of the greatest quartets of our time. Moving and spirited interpretations. The Vainberg is an oddity; written in 1946, it was suppressed (along with most Vainberg compositions) for political reasons and only recently came to light. In passages which sound derivative, we must bear in mind that Vainberg was writing decades ahead of the more famous pieces.

Highly recommended.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
wonderful....of course. 25 April 2013
By M. pettengell - Published on Amazon.com
i've played both discs on my chamber music show (kkfi.org) here in kansas city. a great variety here and you get the weinberg.....a composer that is gaining in popularity as his recorded works increase.....many symphonies and all the quartets are now available!! he is not to be missed....and get all the volumes in this series....as well as their complete carter cycle!
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