Carducci String Quartet

Shostakovich: String Quartets Nos. 4, 8 & 11

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Britain's young Carducci String Quartet has (or have) emerged as specialists in the music of Shostakovich, drawing audiences to performances of the complete cycle and embarking on recording of the set with this assortment of three representative works. Most of Shostakovich's 15 string quartets were written during the later part of his career, and the genre was especially well suited to reflecting his inner reactions to the various public forms of conformity to the Communist regime that he had to display. These quartets, from 1949, 1960, and 1966, respectively, show different facets of those reactions. The Carducci players capture the feel of the String Quartet No. 4 in D major, Op. 83, especially well; the work begins in a sunny pastoral mood seemingly tailor-made for Socialist Realism, but the mood soon deteriorates, and Shostakovich caps things off with one of his Jewish finales. That would have been seen as an oblique on Stalin, who was increasingly anti-Semitic in his old age. The String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110, is one of Shostakovich's most-performed works. It is dedicated to "the victims of fascism and war," but it soon becomes clear that Shostakovich numbered himself as one of the victims involved, and that a more local version of totalitarianism was the referent. The Carduccis also do well with the String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 122, a unique series of brief, sardonic outbursts bearing echoes of Beethoven's late language. Signum's church sound is not ideal, but this release introduces a new group of confident young Shostakovich interpreters.

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