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).
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 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 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.
At the heart of Beethoven’s life’s statement as a composer lies the cycle of sixteen string quartets, which, to this day, has retained a special status and reverence. Since 2012, the Elias String Quartet has been immersed in its Beethoven Project, performing all Beethoven’s string quartets at venues throughout the UK. In this live recording, the ensemble captures both the intimacy and grandeur of the works. With an ever-expanding recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim, the quartet is delighted to release this disc, the first volume of its complete Beethoven cycle to be recorded live at Wigmore Hall over the coming Seasons.
The Aeolian Quartet's epic cycle, originally released in the Seventies, was one of the gramophone's major contributions to Haydn's cause. Listening to the performances anew I find they have lost none of their freshness: they were based on the latest research, and the playing itself is always intelligent and thoughtful, with Emanuel Hurwitz's sweet-toned violin-playing a great asset throughout. (Misha Donat)