Friday, 25 January 2013

Beethoven String Quartet plays Shostakovich

The Fitzwilliam Quartet made a thoroughly admirable recording of the fifteen string quartets of Shostakovich back in the 1970s and, until now, I have lived happily with them. But a recent acquisition of the quartets played by the Beethoven Quartet has completely overturned my loyalties. From 1938 onwards the Beethovens worked closely with Shostakovich, and gave the first performance of 13 of the 15 quartets. In particular, the first violin – Dmitri Tsyganov, the viola – Vadim Borisovsky and the cellist – Sergei Shirinsky come over as passionate solo players within the quartet. The second violin was Vasily Shirinksy, and I think that passion defines the quality I love in these performances.

The transfers from the Melodya LPs of the 1950s and 60s are very well done by Doremi (at least, for those quartets I have listened to so far). I love these string quartets, but I'm afraid the Fitzwilliams go back on the shelf, and the Beethovens stay very near at hand.

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