There’s a great quote in Wendy Lesser’s excellent book, Music for Silenced Voices: Shostakovich and his Fifteen Quartets, that describes the composer’s unique relationship with his quartets: “He could toy with cacophony, immerse himself in irony, indulge in all his darkest, least acceptable moods, and not be called unpatriotic, because nobody who cared about such labels [the Soviet censors] was listening to these compositions.” That’s why these works are so great: they represent the unbridled creative powers of one of the twentieth century’s great composers. This is the third of four releases ……Robert Moon @ Audiophile Audition
The Borodin Quartet commands a special position of respect in the chamber music world. In existence for more than 60 years, it has preserved a unique performance tradition, focusing on the masterpieces at the very heart of the quartet repertoire. Its interpretations are celebrated for their intensity and focus, a style in which individualism dedicates itself to the collaborative spirit of chamber music and total service of the composer’s wishes.
The original Borodin Quartet was founded in 1945 in the Soviet Union and this release marks the Quartet’s 70th anniversary. They enjoyed a close relationship with Shostakovich, and often worked with him as a new quartet was written (and they also recorded the cycle).
The Pacifica Quartet address the more intimate side of Dimitri Shostakovich, particularly his quartets composed in the fateful years in the Soviet Union, 1952-1960. In 1948, Shostakovich, along with Prokofiev and Miaskovsky, had been excoriated as “formalists” incapable of direct communication with “the people.” Shostakovich, however, employed the string quartet medium as means of personal expression relatively unhampered by “political correctness.”……Gary Lemco @ Audiophile Audition
This is the second volume of what is presumably a series covering the complete Shostakovich string quartets along with some selected Russian miscellaneous quartets as well from the Soviet period. The Soviet Experience is a 16-month exposition of arts showcase from those who labored under the Politburo of the Soviet Union, being presented in Chicago under the auspices of the University of Chicago, starting back in 2010 and ending this year, and was inspired by the Pacifica Quartet’s plan to give all of Shostakovich’s quartets in 2010-2011, a city premiere. Cedille decided to capture some of the magic, and the results could very well be close to definitive, or at least in the top three or four……..Steven Ritter @ Audiophile Audition
The Mandelring Quartet plays with unflinching resolve, sympathetic expression, incisive attacks, and penetrating tone, which are all necessary in Shostakovich's sardonic and frequently bitter language.
This is the last installment of the Pacifica Quartet’s Shostakovich cycle named “The Soviet Experience” because it adds one quartet by other Russian composers (Miaskovsky, Prokofiev, Weinberg, and Schnittke) to each release. Although there are many performances of the complete Shostakovich quartets available, the Pacifica Quartet’s traversal of these masterpieces is one of the best. Their sheer brilliance of execution, the emotional depth of their interpretation and the stunning sound make this a most desirable set……Robert Moon @ Audiophile Audition