These live performances by the Borodin String Quartet have been released by Decca in celebration of the group's 70th anniversary, but more importantly, they mark the start of a new cycle of Shostakovich's string quartets, the most personal works he composed and the most closely associated with this Russian ensemble. The String Quartet No. 1 in C major (1938), the String Quartet No. 8 in C minor (1960), and the String Quartet No. 14 in F sharp major (1972), mark distinctly different periods in Shostakovich's writing, and the string quartets as a whole bear special significance, perhaps more than other works, because they contained his most private musical statements. Although the Borodin String Quartet has changed personnel several times since its founding in 1945, it retains much of the character and sound it has cultivated for decades. The group's historic work with Shostakovich and long identification with his music still can be felt in the intensity and seriousness of these performances, particularly in the String Quartet No. 8, which has become a touchstone for many quartets and the best known of the cycle. But the immediacy of the Borodin's sound is the strongest recommendation for hearing this recording, which practically brings the listener inside their vibrant music-making.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|String Quartet No.1 in C major, Op.49|
|String Quartet No.8 in C Minor, Op.110|
|String Quartet No.14 in F sharp major Op.142|
|Two Pieces for String Quartet, Op.36a|