Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Among the best of the Shostakovich cycles on CD

From January 9, 2014:


This is the final volume in the Pacifica Quartet's superb series of the Shostakovich quartets entitled The Soviet Experience. I've commented before on the added value of the concept: each album includes two CDs, with 3 or 4 Shostakovitch quartets, an additional quartet by a great Soviet composer (Miaskovsky, Prokofiev, Weinberg, and here Schnittke), a long and illuminating essay about the music, and evocative Soviet-era graphics. Volume 4 has all of this, but when I consider the whole series, I'm struck by how impressive it would have been even without this framing device. These are first-class recordings of the 15 quartets Shostakovich wrote from 1938 until 1974, and I would place the Pacifica Quartet in the top group of complete Shostakovich recordings, along with the Fitzwilliam and Borodin Quartets. With this impressive accomplishment under their belts, I wonder what interesting recording projects these talented young musicians are contemplating now.

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