Shostakovich: String Quartets

Shostakovich String Quartets, Borodin String Quartets ★★★★★
I have four versions of the Shostakovich String Quartets, including those by the Borodin, Fitzwilliam, Shostakovich, and Emerson Quartets. The Borodin was my first purchase, and still my favorite, though I would be reluctant to give any of the renditions anything less than 5 stars, as they are all well done. This recording is slightly more recessive than the others, as though it was recorded in a large hall, giving it a sense of the mysterious depth that seems to be written into this music. The performers seem to have a feel for the great angst and depression that Shostakovich was experiencing as he wrote his most intimate and private works, many of these quartets not being performed or published until after his death. They are creative, soulful, brilliant in their composition, and reflective of the greatest composer of the 20th century. Included in this set is the most delightful piano quintet. I will offer a special mention to the 15th string quartet, Shostakovich’s last. It begins with an elegy, immediately followed by the screech quartet, a funeral march, and finally a very active ending. It is the composer at his greatest, and in this quartet, Shostakovich says more than most 20th century composers in their lifetime of compositional output. This is truly a set of string quartets worth owning.