St Petersburg String Quartet
This disc brings to fruition the St Petersburg String Quartet’s complete cycle of Shostakovich’s fifteen quartets.
Composed in 1938, some thirty-six years before No 15, String Quartet No 1 appears as a simple work, composed in response to the ‘somewhat naive and bright moods associated with spring’ following the birth of the composer’s son and the triumphant premiere of his Symphony No 5. Yet the directness of language which characterizes all of this composer’s quartets is already present, and the work is a perfectly formed masterpiece.
Pianist Igor Uryash joins the St Petersburg Quartet for the Piano Quintet of 1940; after its performance the work won for Shostakovich the Stalin Prize of 100,000 roubles. A glance at the list of movements might lead one to imagine that this is a neoclassical work, but its direct emotional power and thematic integration place it on altogether a higher level than mere pastiche. Piano Trio No 2 (No 1 does not survive complete) was written four years later, in memory of the life of the Russian musicologist Ivan Sollertinsky. The resulting solemnity of tone is an early example of the composer’s increasing preoccupation with texture and produces a work of captivating intensity.
All of the music on this album is also available as part of the specially priced box set Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets: ‘These players approach Shostakovich's mighty cycle with a natural authority that's unanswerable, along with tireless precision and virtuosity, plus a wonderful command of the music's way of switching between sunlight and shadow when you least expect it’ (Classic FM Magazine).