St. Petersburg String Quartet

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 1; Piano Quintet; Piano Trio No. 2

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Strong and flexible in the quartet literature but equally powerful and adaptive in other chamber combinations, the St. Petersburg String Quartet demonstrates its versatility with pianist Igor Uriash on this 2004 disc from Hyperion. Of particular interest is the penetrating performance of the Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, where violinist Alla Aranovskaya and cellist Leonid Shukaev join Uriash in a finely coordinated reading, balancing their distinctive parts with group cohesion, and all the while presenting a coherent, unified interpretation of Shostakovich's mutable and probing score. The Piano Quintet in G minor provides an opportunity for the full quartet to display its receptivity to a fifth partner, and Uriash is evenly matched by the strings in richness of tone, emotional depth, and a genuine spirit of cooperation. Fully assured in the String Quartet No. 1 in C major, the quartet plays off the work's tension between classical poise and modernist irony, a hallmark of Shostakovich's expression in many later works. The listener may be tempted to explore the St. Petersburg's complete series of the quartets, which were released previously on separate discs. The sound quality is fine, though slightly less clear than expected from Hyperion.

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