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”
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