Borodin Quartet

Dmitri Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets

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The later Mikhail Kopelman-led Borodin Quartet recordings of the complete string quartets of Shostakovich aren't so much better than the earlier Valentin Berlinsky-led Borodin Quartet's recordings as they have more than the earlier recording. For one thing, there are two more quartets; the earlier cycle stops with 13 because Shostakovich hadn't gotten any further yet. For another thing, the playing is more emotional; the earlier cycle is violently expressive, but the later cycle has more humanity. For yet another thing, the recorded sound of the later cycle is more aggressive than the earlier cycle with more highs, more lows, and much more presence. And as interpretations, the later Borodin cycle is more: more anguished, more haunted, more lamenting, more monumental, more powerful, and perhaps even more deeply moving. If you can only have one set of the Shostakovich string quartets, the later Borodin is the one to have. If you can only have two sets, get the earlier Borodin, too.

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