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WGUC Reviews

Shostakovich: Quartets

Shostakovich: Quartets
Jerusalem Quartet

Review by: Robert Zierolf

Opinions of Shostakovich's life and music are the most dichotomous and controversial of any composer. (Google "Shostakovich" for an extensive sample of the issues.) Supporter of the Soviet state? Secret dissident? Some find answers in his music; of the fifteen quartets the eighth is often cited as autobiographical and otherwise telling. Several complete sets of these master-pieces are available, but for a sample of them from an ambitious young quartet this recording will be an ample introduction. At times introspective and dark, other times bright or even manic, the Jerusalem Quartet meets the challenges with polish and insight.

For those already familiar with Shostakovich's chamber music, listening to the St. Petersburg Quartet's recordings and the Beethoven Quartet's discs along with this one will illuminate the enigma that Shostakovich's compositions offer. This is music one can listen to as a document of what musical talent can portray in dire circumstances or without sociopolitical relevance as simply masterful work by an enormously gifted composer.


Sound Quality:

Robert Zierolf is Professor of Music Theory and History and Division head of Composition, Musicology, and Theory at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He is also a freelance writer on classical music.


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