Dmitri Shostakovich's 15 string quartets are seen as the true inner voice of the man forever harried by the Soviets. The premieres of his 15 symphonies were major political events, but in his chamber music he could afford real personal reflection on life under the comrades. This is the first volume of the Chicago-based Pacifica Quartet's exciting exploration of the cycle, tackling Nos 5 to 8 and coupling them with Nikolai Miaskovsky's quartet No 13. Its release coincides with their electrifying performances at Wigmore Hall last week. Listen to these and you'll wish you had been there. --Observer,16/10/11
Composer's 15 masterworks are notable for their intimacy and represent an emotional journey The quartets in this first volume date from the 1950s and 1960s when, amid a changing political landscape, Shostakovich continued to find himself under external pressure. The Fifth is austere and elusive, the Sixth more lyrical and traditional, the three-movement Seventh alternately spare and dissonant, the Eighth a 20-minute outpouring of emotional intensity in the composer's finest vein. The Pacificas play them with clairvoyant unity of purpose, combining motivic lucidity and naturalness of expression in a way that gives these often difficult masterworks a compelling logic. --Financial Times,18/11/11
A fine reading. --IRR,Dec'11
The Pacifica's sense of musical argument is always impressive. Lovely,cultured musicianship throughout. Perfomance ***** Recording **** BBC MUSIC CHAMBER CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine,Jan'12
How refreshing to encounter the subtly understated performances of the Pacifica Quartet ,which pays Shostakovich the compliment of allowing his music to blossom forth, unmanacled by the need to lace his every whim and caprice with irony. THE STRAD RECOMMENDS --The Strad,Feb'12
This is the first installment in the Pacifica Quartets highly anticipated, four-volume CD survey of the complete Shostakovich string quartets: The Soviet Experience: String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and his Contemporaries. The Soviet Experience 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. Its also a great value: each two-CD installment is priced as a single CD. In 2011-12, the Pacifica will play the Shostakovich quartet cycle in Londons Wigmore Hall.