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4.0 out of 5 stars A super-bargain introduction to a challenging idiom
On the very infrequent occasions that I write a review of any recording of Shostakovich's music, I always make it very clear that I am neither very knowledgeable about it nor indeed generally a great fan of it, having struggled with his gloomy, spiky, ghostly idiom over many years and found myself quite often repelled by the sheer bleakness and melancholy of it...
Published 3 months ago by Ralph Moore

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit tame...
I've been listening to lots of string quartets over the last few months and Shostakovich's cycle is one which consistently crops up in classical music buffs' must-listen-to recommendations. I originally heard no. 8 played by the young Jerusalem Quartet on a BBC recording from 2000. It's ghostly, aching, music, delicate and severe at the same time and utterly compelling. I...
Published on 3 April 2009 by Bagpuss


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit tame..., 3 April 2009
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This review is from: Shostakovich : String Quartets Nos 7, 8 & 9 - APEX (Audio CD)
I've been listening to lots of string quartets over the last few months and Shostakovich's cycle is one which consistently crops up in classical music buffs' must-listen-to recommendations. I originally heard no. 8 played by the young Jerusalem Quartet on a BBC recording from 2000. It's ghostly, aching, music, delicate and severe at the same time and utterly compelling. I heard some samples of the Brodsky Quartet's playing of the 7th and thought I'd give them a try. Unfortunately, after listening to the Borodins playing it, this is thin and somehow lacking in depth. Maybe it's the recording itself - this CD has an annoying (to me), brittle sound which just grates after a while. Apex is usually a good bet for budget recordings (check out the Keller Quartet's suberb recordings of Bartok's string quartets String Quartets 1 - 6 (Keller Quartet)), but this one just left me cold. Get the Borodins' version Shostakovich: String Quartets 1-13 , or the riveting and sparkly Eder Quartet reading on Naxos Shostakovich: String Quartets (Complete), Vol. 2.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A super-bargain introduction to a challenging idiom, 25 Jan. 2015
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Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shostakovich : String Quartets Nos 7, 8 & 9 - APEX (Audio CD)
On the very infrequent occasions that I write a review of any recording of Shostakovich's music, I always make it very clear that I am neither very knowledgeable about it nor indeed generally a great fan of it, having struggled with his gloomy, spiky, ghostly idiom over many years and found myself quite often repelled by the sheer bleakness and melancholy of it.

My approach to this super-bargain disc was prompted by hearing the String Quartet No.8, the "Dresden" quartet, at a concert and finding myself intrigued and engaged despite my prejudices. It is not for nothing that it is his most popular in this genre - if "popular" is the right word here - and its appeal is enhanced by its unusual through-composed style and its potential to be interpreted either as the lament for the destruction of that city and "the victims of fascism and war" (comparable to Strauss's "Metamorphosen", supposedly his elegy for Munich - although that is disputed by some) or, more subversively, a protest at the suppression of all dissent by the Soviet authorities. Hence the sustained B flat on the first violin punctuated by percussive staccato triplets could be the bombs dropping or the anti-aircraft guns firing - or an even more sinister possibility: the triple knock on the door of the KGB coming to arrest dissidents in the middle of the night. The whole work, throughout its five movements, is imprinted with variations on the opening D-E flat-C-B motif which, of course, signified the initials of the composer's name in German notation, D-S-C-H.

Either way, it is a compelling and chilling piece from which I derive considerably more pleasure than I do from the other two quartets on either side of No.8, try as I might. It is frequently disturbing, unsettling music punctuated by passages of demonic glee which are far from reassuring or comforting. Their restlessness, angularity and violence are constant features; this is amongst the most challenging music I have encountered (you can tell I have led a sheltered life...).

Although other reviewers have demurred, I find the Brodskys' performances wholly satisfactory as I do the sound but I have nothing to compare them to. It is not music that I shall return to often but should I do so, these will do very well.
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Shostakovich : String Quartets Nos 7, 8 & 9  -  APEX
Shostakovich : String Quartets Nos 7, 8 & 9 - APEX by Brodsky Quartet (Audio CD - 2001)
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