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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67155
Recording details: December 2000
St Petersburg Recording Studio, Russia
Produced by Alexander Gerutsky
Engineered by Gerhard Tses
Release date: April 2001
Total duration: 13 minutes 19 seconds

'Playing of a technical command that invites comparison with the best available' (Gramophone)

'These are among the great interpretations that have been placed on disc … I do believe that this cycle could grow to some of the most impressive Shostakovich performances ever placed on disc' (Fanfare, USA)

‘An extremely well-balanced and -matched ensemble, giving highly energised and committed performances. This recording seems to have found the ideal balance between youthful vigour and adult refinement. The tone is warm and the recording sumptuous. The disc is very highly recommended’ (Music Teacher)

'An emotional intensity which leaves little doubt that it meant a great deal to the composer – and to these prize-winning Russian players' (Liverpool Evening News)

String Quartet No 7 in F sharp minor, Op 108
composer
1956

Allegretto  [3'18]
Lento  [4'05]
Allegro  [5'56]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Shostakovich’s Seventh Quartet was completed in March 1960. It is the shortest of the series but is no less significant for that. In many ways it explores aspects of quartet-writing not encountered in other of his works, at least up to that time. Ostensibly in three movements, which are played attacca, in practice it comes across as a four-movement structure, for the finale is very much in two parts. The work is dedicated to the memory of his first wife, Nina, who had died in 1954, and who, had she lived, would have celebrated her fiftieth birthday in 1960.

The quartet opens with a chromatic descending idea on first violin, answered by three repeated quavers, firmly anchoring the tonality to F sharp minor. A secondary rising theme—also in quavers—over a low C leads to the second subject proper in E flat minor, on the cello. This is combined with the secondary theme, and a developmental codetta leads to an extraordinary counter-statement of the preceding material. The tempo changes to 3/8, the quavers remaining even, and the timbre to pizzicato, as the tonality returns to F sharp minor. The second subject is restated more or less regularly in F sharp, and the earlier repeated quavers in a gentle coda quietly bring the movement to its close.

The second violin begins the central Lento with an accompanimental figure spread across the four strings, over which first violin sings a long-breathed theme clearly derived in part from the opening idea of the quartet. The instruments are muted throughout and when the viola and cello enter, in bare fifths, they bring the first glissando in any Shostakovich quartet. First cello, then viola, and finally both in octaves, continue the violin theme—second violin accompanies virtually throughout the movement—which is taken up by first violin again, over an eventual low D pedal, to the end, but not before a falling viola phrase—A, G sharp, F sharp, E sharp (i.e. F natural)—is heard. At once the finale burst upon us, the quartet’s opening anapæstic rhythm extended but at once silenced by the viola’s four-note phrase (the significance of which remains unclear) as the movement immediately hurtles on its breathless way. In its rush, themes from the second movement are recalled—almost grabbed at—before the quartet’s opening idea is given out, a third higher, by all four instruments in octaves, fff.

The recall of first-movement material brings proceedings almost to a halt, and then the second major part of the finale, in effect a fourth movement—not unlike a gentle ghostly waltz—begins. As it proceeds it recalls aspects of the first movement’s counter-statement before recapitulating, in essence, the gentle coda from that movement, now shown to be a coda to the entire composition.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2001

Other albums featuring this work
'Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets' (CDS44091/6)
Shostakovich: The Complete String Quartets
MP3 £30.00FLAC £30.00ALAC £30.00 CDS44091/6  6CDs Boxed set (at a special price) — Deleted  
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