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Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets (1-15), Piano Quintet Box set, Original recording remastered

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, August 12, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

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Dmitri Shostakovich's 15 string quartets are second in quality only to Bartók's magnificent half-dozen among the sets produced in this form by 20th-century composers. But outside of Russia, they were ignored or disparaged for a long time, dismissed as "not really chamber music" and criticized for technical "weaknesses," largely because they did not follow the standard patterns invented and developed in Vienna. The Borodin Quartet, Russian colleagues and friends of Shostakovich (though not as closely associated with him as the Beethoven Quartet), lived with the music for years before this, their second complete recording. They play with power and elegance, and the attractively priced set has a substantial bonus: a magnificent performance, with pianist Sviatoslav Richter, of the Quintet in G minor, Op. 57, one of the masterpieces of 20th-century chamber music. The sound is variable and never outstanding by current digital standards. --Joe McLellan

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. String Quartet No.1 In C Major, Op.49: I: Moderato
  2. String Quartet No.1 In C Major, Op.49: II: Moderato
  3. String Quartet No.1 In C Major, Op.49: III: Allegro molto
  4. String Quartet No.1 In C Major, Op.49: IV: Allegro
  5. String Quartet No.2 In A Major, Op.68: I: Overture (Moderato con moto)
  6. String Quartet No.2 In A Major, Op.68: II: Recitative and Romance (Adagio)
  7. String Quartet No.2 In A Major, Op.68: III: Waltz (Allegro)
  8. String Quartet No.2 In A Major, Op.68: IV: Theme with Variations (Adagio)
  9. String Quartet No.4 In D Major, Op.83: I: Allegretto
  10. String Quartet No.4 In D Major, Op.83: II: Andantino
  11. String Quartet No.4 In D Major, Op.83: III: Allegretto
  12. String Quartet No.4 In D Major, Op.83: IV: Allegretto

Disc: 2

  1. String Quartet No.3 In F Major, Op.73: I. Allegretto
  2. String Quartet No.3 In F Major, Op.73: II. Moderato con moto
  3. String Quartet No.3 In F Major, Op.73: III. Allegro non troppo
  4. String Quartet No.3 In F Major, Op.73: IV. Adagio
  5. String Quartet No.3 In F Major, Op.73: V. Moderato
  6. Two Pieces For String Octet, Op.11: I. Prelude in D Minor (Adagio)
  7. Two Pieces For String Octet, Op.11: II. Scherzo in G Minor (Allegro molto)
  8. Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57: I. Prelude (Lento)
  9. Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57: II. Fugue (Adagio)
  10. Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57: III. Scherzo (Allegretto)
  11. Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57: IV. Intermezzo (Lento)
  12. Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op.57: V. Finale (Allegretto)

Disc: 3

  1. String Quartet No.5 in B flat Major, Op.92: I. Allegro non troppo
  2. String Quartet No.5 in B flat Major, Op.92: II. Andante
  3. String Quartet No.5 in B flat Major, Op.92: III. Moderato
  4. String Quartet No.6 in G Major, Op.101: I. Allegretto
  5. String Quartet No.6 in G Major, Op.101: II. Moderato con moto
  6. String Quartet No.6 in G Major, Op.101: III. Lento
  7. String Quartet No.6 in G Major, Op.101: IV. Lento- Allegretto
  8. String Quartet No.7 in F sharp Minor, Op.108: I. Alegretto
  9. String Quartet No.7 in F sharp Minor, Op.108: II. Lento
  10. String Quartet No.7 in F sharp Minor, Op.108: III. Alegro

Disc: 4

  1. String Quartet No.8 In C Minor, Op.110: I: Largo
  2. String Quartet No.8 In C Minor, Op.110: II: Allegro molto
  3. String Quartet No.8 In C Minor, Op.110: III: Allegretto
  4. String Quartet No.8 In C Minor, Op.110: IV: Largo
  5. String Quartet No.8 In C Minor, Op.110: V: Largo
  6. String Quartet No.9 In E Flat Major Op.117: I: Moderato con moto
  7. String Quartet No.9 In E Flat Major Op.117: II: Adagio
  8. String Quartet No.9 In E Flat Major Op.117: III: Allegretto
  9. String Quartet No.9 In E Flat Major Op.117: IV: Adagio
  10. String Quartet No.9 In E Flat Major Op.117: V: Allegro
  11. String Quartet No.10 In A Flat Major, Op.118: 1: Andante
  12. String Quartet No.10 In A Flat Major, Op.118: II: Allegretto furioso
  13. String Quartet No.10 In A Flat Major, Op.118: III: Adagio
  14. String Quartet No.10 In A Flat Major, Op.118: IV: Allegretto

Disc: 5

  1. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: I. Introduction (Andintino) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  2. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: II. Scherzo (Allegretto) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  3. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: III. Recitative (Adagio) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  4. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: IV. Etude (Allegro) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  5. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: V. Humoresque (Allegro) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  6. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: VI. Elegy (Adagio) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  7. String Quartet No.11 In F Minor, Op.122: VII. Conclusion (Moderato) - Dmitri Shostakovich
  8. String Quartet No.12 In D Flat Major, Op.133: I. Moderato - Dmitri Shostakovich
  9. String Quartet No.12 In D Flat Major, Op.133: II. Allegretto - Dmitri Shostakovich
  10. String Quartet No.13 In B Flat Minor, Op.138: Adagio - Dmitri Shostakovich

Disc: 6

  1. String Quartet No.14 In F Sharp Minor: I. Allegretto
  2. String Quartet No.14 In F Sharp Minor: II. Adagio
  3. String Quartet No.14 In F Sharp Minor: III. Allegretto
  4. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: I. Elegy (Adagio)
  5. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: II. Serenade (Adagio)
  6. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: III. Intermezzo (Adagio)
  7. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: IV. Nocturne- Adagio
  8. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: V. Funeral March (Adagio molto)
  9. String Quartet No.15 In E Flat Minor: VI. Epilogue (Adagio)


Product Details

  • Performer: Sviatoslav Richter, Borodin Quartet
  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (August 12, 1997)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: BMG Classics / Melodiya
  • ASIN: B000001HDU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,538 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By scarecrow VINE VOICE on August 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I don't know if we can classifiy this as THE definitive reading of the life work of one of this centuries most celebrated creator,but The Borodin certainly capture in a profound way the emotive dramatic core, the essence,colour,gesture,tone and philosophic depth reflecting the weight of this century.
These Quartets inhabit a different space than the Symphonies although the two genres are always placed side by side, incorrectly I think. The Quartets had a purer conception,and they always worked best when left alone without addendums as,the Piano Quintet Op.57, included with admirable aggressive playing from Sviatoslav Richter.Here in the Quintet I thought rendered the strings as mere accompaniment,not first chair actors/ speakers. Shostakovich's creativity always required a voice, that is one element that is shared with the Symphonies,where flute,clarinet,bassoon are given solo roles as a form of commentary on some previous atrocity,or a sense of repose,of serene reflection, and the various First Violin Solos especially that occur throughout all these works is one focus,a parallel with his immense Symphonies.The Borodin allows interpretive freedoms,like concerto soloists each role,and gives it the space it needs, as in the demonic Allegro molto from the Eighth Quartet. The Borodin continually distinguish themselves in not being afraid to play an ugly sound,a Gypsy-like gesture, as again moments from the Eighth where the viola merely marks out a chord quite obviously, with an ugly tone, or the simple provincial minor chord outlines in the Third Quartet,something a street musician might have done.
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The 15 Shostakovitch Quartets are almost the mirror image of the 15 Symphonies. While the Symphonies are big public statements, albeit statements filled with many private meanings, the quartets are intensely private. Listening the the entire cycle is like reading a locked diary. You feel as if you are listening in on Shostakovitch's private thoughts. And while the symphonies are primarily works of his early years (the first ten were written before the early fifties) the most of the quartets were written later in his career, the last ten date from about 1950 onward.
These are wide ranging works, from the almost Haydnesque 1st quartet through the almost serial 13th quartet, and onward to the intensely elegaic 15th quartet, composed of 7 slow movements. The early quartets are mostly written in Shostakovitch's middle style as reflected in the 5th symphony. The music is clear and very tonal, as most works of Shostakovitch's Soviet Realist style would be. But they reveal underlying secrets in the occasional dissonances and dark moments. And starting with the 6th quartet the music begins to transition into the composer's late style. These works are more enigmatic. The musical language is more chromatic...based on the same synthetic scales that inspired Scriabin and Messiaen...and much more dissonant than the earlier quartets. Shostakovitch is much more experimental, stretching his language and formal structures. Also, there seems to be crytic messages in the music based on numerical symbolism, hidden letter messages, and references to the composer's other music.
These performances are definative. The Borodin Quartet, along with the Beethoven Quartet, have the best pedigree with these works, having worked personally with the composer, and actually premiering some of these works.
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Sure there are other good recordings by other quartets of the complete String Quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich -- for double (or triple!) the price. But not only are the Borodin Quartet recordings cheap, they are the best. The Borodins give an unshakably consistent reading of every quartet (and Shostakovich fires no blanks!). They even throw in the Piano Quintet and the two String Octet movements. Each performance is among the best ever recorded and some ARE the best ever recorded, especially the immensely convincing and coherent readings of the middle-late dodecaphonic quartets (12, 13) and the late 'introverted' quartets (14, 15). Even the over-recorded 8th quartet sounds amazingly fresh here. I can't recommend this set enough. You won't regret the purchase for a nanosecond.
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I believe this is the lowest priced complete set of the quartets now available, and probably the best. I had the Manhattan Quartet's traversal, and it is better recorded than the Borodin's but somehow pales in comparison. There are the notes, and there is what is behind and between the notes. A musician might (rightly) scoff at this, but the entire reason for those pages on the music stand is communication -- moment to moment and on the wing.
The Borodin Quartet instictively phrases this music, paces it, balances it, in a thousand ways that cause the listener to marvel at these inventive departures from Vienese/Western chamber traditions. The music is often vulgar, daring to "stink in the ears" as Hanslick once wrote of Tschaikovsky, but just as often naive, childlike, and tragic as Lear on the heath with dead Cordelia. It smiles though wounded; it dances on broken legs; it can make you laugh and break your heart.
Perhaps too often it dares to be more than chamber music ought to be, but in the last quartets -- 11 through 15 -- Shostakovich also concerns himself with pure music and with a very personal way of employing tone rows. The few Beethoven Quartet performances I have suggest that ensemble knew this music best, but the Borodin's match them very closely. I would also recommend the Fitzwilliam Quartet set on Decca, based on lps I owned a number of years ago.
The Quintet performance is a distinguished bonus, adding value to this set. I still think the composer's recording with the Beethoven Quartet remains the best, though not as well played or recorded (the same is often said for Schnabel's Beethoven sonata recordings, the irony being there is more to music than the notes on the page).
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