The Brodsky Quartet

Dmitri Shostakovich: The String Quartets

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Shostakovich's string quartets are many things, most of them modified by the adjective extreme. They are extremely expressive, extremely intense, extremely ironic, extremely passionate, extremely powerful, but whatever else they are, the Shostakovich string quartets are never, ever cool. Even at his most ironic, Shostakovich is never, ever cool and the Brodsky Quartet's, with its italicized tone and stylized interpretations, sound very, very cool. This is not to say that the Brodsky Quartet can't play the music. It is a virtuoso ensemble with plenty of dexterity and strength and it can handle everything the quartets throw at it. But while nothing ever ruffles the Brodsky, nothing ever involves it, either. The things that make Shostakovich's quartets what they are -- their musical strength and moral courage -- and the things that make them the greatest cycle of quartets in the twentieth century -- their immense anguish and despairing depths -- are missing in the Brodsky's interpretations, replaced by coolly objective, almost disinterested, and certainly unaffecting performances. Teldec's sound is sharp, clear, and a little bit close.

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