Shostakovich: String Quartets, Vol. 2

Shostakovich: String Quartets, Vol. 2
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich
Artist Quartetto Noûs
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96420
EAN code 5028421964201
Release June 2024

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About this release

MusicWeb International made the first volume of this series a Recording of the Month when it was released in 2022. ‘This recording by the Quartetto Noûs is an exceptionally good one… the superb sound given to the Noûs really does make a difference… The Noûs play with plenty of grit… but there is always that sense of lamenting, singing voices behind and responding to the violence… If you have any sense that these works are just a bit too austere then this recording is really one to get as it has given me immense pleasure as well as the more expected qualities of a recording of music by Shostakovich.’

The Italian ensemble now turns to a trio of quartets traditionally considered inscrutable but (in the right performances) no less filled with both musical and private stories than the quartets of Bartók. The Tenth Quartet embeds the composer’s cryptogram, DSCH, within the textures of the outer movements, which are separated by a biting Scherzo and a desolate passacaglia. Reminiscent in these facets of the composer’s mid-period symphonies, there is a highly compressed symphonic expression to the quartet.

The Eleventh, by contrast is episodic and elliptical, a curtain-raiser to the composer’s late style, and the first quartet of four to be dedicated to the individual members of the Beethoven Quartet. Sven brief movements outline and develop a long and winding theme, often making its way unsteadily along a major-minor ridge.

The Twelfth takes a unique form: one of Shostakovich’s typical Moderato introductions takes a 12-tone theme as its subject, though he does not adopt a serial procedure in developing it. This is followed by a long movement condensing elements of Adagio, recitative and fugue which takes the listener on a long dark night of the soul before a major version of its opening theme wins out, in characteristically equivocal triumph. Between them, the three quartets make a compelling unity of their own, and the Quartetto Noûs has established itself among the most distinguished ensembles of our day in this music.

- The new installment of the complete String Quartets by Shostakovich played by Quartetto Nous.
- Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) is without doubt one of the most famous and influential composers of 20th century Russia. He lived in a time of Soviet repression and, though outwardly a loyal communist, he resented the restrictions imposed by the regime on his creativity. This led to a fascinating duality between conformism and the expression of his most innermost feelings, fears and anger.
- Shostakovich’s 15 String Quartets form an impressive body which follows the development of his style throughout his life. They are the testimony of a tortured soul struggling to remain true to himself, expressed in anguish and bleakness, but also in serenity and bliss.
- Shostakovich's string quartets 10, 11, and 12 offer a captivating journey through the composer's psyche. String Quartet No. 10, written in 1964, exhibits a blend of anguish and defiance, reflecting the oppressive Soviet regime. No. 11, composed in 1966, is a stark depiction of historical tragedy, notably the 1905 Russian Revolution. Its haunting melodies and stark contrasts evoke a sense of mourning and protest. Finally, No. 12, completed in 1968, embraces experimentation, employing twelve-tone techniques amidst brooding introspection.
- Quartetto Noûs, formed in 2011, has established itself in a short time as one of the most interesting chamber music ensembles of its generation. Its immersive performances are the result of a professional training where the Italian tradition and the most influential European schools are combined. The quartet studied with the Quartetto di Cremona at the Accademia Walter Stauffer in Cremona, at the Basel Musik Akademie with Rainer Schmidt (Hagen Quartet), at the Escuela Superior de Música ‘Reina Sofía’ in Madrid and at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena with Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet) and at the Lübeck Musikhochschule with Heime Müller (Artemis Quartet).
- The first volume of the Shostakovich Quartets by Quartetto Noûs for Brilliant Classics was hailed enthusiastically by the press. Musicweb writes:” This is one of the best as it left me in awe of the breadth as well as the intensity of Shostakovich’s genius.”.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118: I. Andante
  2. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118: II. Allegro furioso
  3. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118: III. Adagio
  4. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118: IV. Allegretto-Andante
  5. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: I. Introduction. Andantino
  6. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: II. Scherzo. Allegretto
  7. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: III. Recitative. Adagio
  8. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: IV. Etude. Allegro
  9. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: V. Humoresque. Allegro
  10. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: VI. Elegy. Adagio
  11. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 11, Op. 122: VII. Finale. Moderato
  12. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 12, Op. 133: I. Moderato-Allegretto
  13. Dmitri Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 12, Op. 133: II. Allegretto-Adagio-Moderato-Allegretto