Soviet Experience, Vol. 1: Shostakovich & Myaskovsky String Quartets / Pacifica Quartet

Audio Samples

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 5 in B flat major, Op. 92
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 6 in G major, Op. 101
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 8 in C minor, Op. 110
>Myaskovsky, Nikolay : Quartet for Strings no 13 in A minor, Op. 86

Album Summary

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 5 in B flat major, Op. 92
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 6 in G major, Op. 101
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108
>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 8 in C minor, Op. 110
>Myaskovsky, Nikolay : Quartet for Strings no 13 in A minor, Op. 86
Composers

Notes & Reviews:

This is the first installment in the Pacifica Quartet's highly anticipated, four-volume CD survey of the complete Shostakovich string quartets: The Soviet Experience: String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich and his Contemporaries. The Soviet Experience is the first Shostakovich quartet cycle to include works by other important composers of the Soviet era, adding variety and perspective to the listening experience. This superbly performed series of audiophile recordings, produced and engineered by multiple Grammy Award winner Judith Sherman, will appeal to everyone interested in great Russian music of the 20th century. It's also a great value: each two-CD installment is priced as a single CD. The Pacifica Quartet performed the complete Shostakovich cycle to great acclaim in New York and Chicago and at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill., during the 2010 - 2011 season. The Chicago Tribune said, "The remarkable Pacifica Quartet . . . coaxed the music's unfathomable sorrows, fleeting joys and macabre humor to the surface as if creating it on the spot." The New York Times called the Pacifica "enterprising and eloquent" and said its Shostakovich installments were "beautifully and powerfully played."

The Pacifica Quartet, Named Musical America's 2009 Ensemble of the Year, the Pacifica Quartet has received international acclaim as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. The Pacifica was recently appointed quartet-in residence at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the position held for 43 years by the Guarneri String Quartet. The Pacifica won a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance for its CD of Elliott Carter's String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label. The ensemble has received stellar reviews for its four previous Cedille Records recordings, including the complete Mendelssohn string quartets.

"The excellent Pacifica Quartet, which has demonstrated its empathy with Shostakovich’s music in recent concert performances, offers electrifying interpretations of his Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Quartets. The group conveys every shade of Shostakovich’s extreme emotional palette in a set — Volume 1 of a series called “The Soviet Experience” — that also includes a stirring rendition of Miaskovsky’s String Quartet No. 13 in A minor." -The New York Times

"Their sense of the musical argument is always impressive, shining through their objective but never over-slick approach. The Pacifica Quartet only seem to draw breath, like Shostakovich, between movements. As a result, the continuous Fifth Quartet just keeps coming at you...The Sixth Quartet has never seemed more genuinely tender, and the aphorisms of the Seventh are full of determination...Lovely, cultured musicianship throughout." -BBC Music Magazine

"The Pacificas play them with clairvoyant unity of purpose, combining motivic lucidity and naturalness of expression in a way that gives these often difficult masterworks a compelling logic." -The Financial Times

"Its release coincides with their electrifying performances at Wigmore Hall last week. Listen to these and you'll wish you had been there." -The Observer

The WholeNote
The Pacifica Quartet... have obviously developed a deep understanding of these works. The four quartets Nos. 5 to 8 are included on this first volume and the Pacifica members are terrific throughout, scaling the heights of the music as convincingly as they plumb the depths. The overwhelmingly autobiographical - and achingly personal - Quartet No.8 Op.110 is particularly effective.

Fanfare
the Pacifica's ensemble is flawless, and while they can rip you apart with the hammer blows at the beginning of the Eighth's fourth movement, they're capable of enrapturing you with their timbral beauty as well...

Pizzicato
It is often rewarding when you can experience as a listener works in interpretations, where the musicians come from a different culture than that of the composer. We know enough of the Shostakovich interpretations of Russian musicians, we know of their passion and the search for authenticity. The direction, pursued for decades by Russian artists is, of course, quite uniform. Quite different from going to American artists with Shostakovich's music. There are those who really enjoy the sound universe full of Russian composer and make a concert almost a sound show, because there are also others who are looking for new worlds of sound and interpretative approaches.

San Francisco Classical Voice
This is brilliant... great... marvelous work. I doubt anyone would place it at mid-20th-c.

The Pacifica Quartet, throughout, is magnificent...

The New Yorker
[Pacifica Quartet] gives performances of both power and perception, finding the grace and fire in Shostakovich's enigmatic Fifth and Sixth Quartets and delivering the celebrated Seventh and Eighth Quartets with overwhelming force.

Fanfare
As with everything I've heard the Pacifica Quartet do, the players' technical address is impeccable, and their instinct for projecting a pitch-perfect sense of the period, style, and native cultural characteristics of whatever music is in front of them is unerring. This, in my book, makes the Pacifica Quartet the most versatile American string quartet on the scene today. I hope they hurry up and finish this new Shostakovich cycle so they can move on to Beethoven. They're more than ready for it, and it's time.

BBC Music Magazine
The Pacifica's sense of musical argument is always impressive

San Jose Mercury News
The Pacifica is a hot ensemble, racking up accolades for a reason. On this 2-disc set, it offers four Shostakovich quartets (Nos. 5 - 8) and one by Nikolai Miaskovsky, bringing fearsome beauty and sparkle to the task.

The Classical Review
Throughout, the Pacifica Quartet play with a virtuosity tempered by lithe gracefulness, superbly controlled emotions, and real feeling and flair. The recorded sound is excellent, and William Hussey's analytical liner note offers breadth and detail. A vivid beginning to what promises to be an altogether essential cycle.

Chicago Tribune
Listeners who thrilled to the Pacifica's intensely felt concert performances of all 15 Shostakovich quartets last season can relive the experience through this first installment of what promises to be the full cycle on CD, a two-disc set that includes another notable quartet from the Soviet era.

Gramophone
Miaskovsky proves that being traditional need not be at the cost of musical interest ... it succeeds best in placing Shostakovich as a blazing revolutionary by comparison.

ClassicsToday.com
These performances, every bit as fine as those, would be excellent by themselves, but they do risk getting lost in the discographic shuffle. So it was an inspired idea to pair them with other important works in the same medium by Shostakovich's contemporaries. I'm not sure if this adds up to a "Soviet Experience," whatever that is, but it does make for some great listening.

Classical Candor
... Pacifica players perform with enthusiasm, passion, grace, precision, and, above all, virtuosity. ... No. 8 is probably the most recognizable, the most personal, and the most tragic. The Pacifica players give it an ardent, heartfelt interpretation. ... the sonics are exceptionally smooth and natural. There is a clear separation of instruments without pinning each to the wall for minute examination... the effect is fairly effective in terms of midrange transparency, with a touch of hall ambience for added realism. I like it.

La Scena Musicale
The Pacifica Quartet, recorded in a Midwest winter, bring an authentic bleakness to the middle quartets, written at a time when the composer lived in fear of arrest and death. There's a lovely end-bonus of Miaskovsky's 13th quartet in A minor.

Positive Feedback Online
An auspicious beginning to what should be a great series.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performi (07/24/2010-05/15/2011).



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Works Details

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 5 in B flat major, Op. 92
  • Notes: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cha (07/24/2010-05/15/2011)
  • Running Time: 31 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1952

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 6 in G major, Op. 101
  • Notes: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cha (07/24/2010-05/15/2011)
  • Running Time: 25 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1956

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 7 in F sharp minor, Op. 108
  • Notes: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cha (07/24/2010-05/15/2011)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1960

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Quartet for Strings no 8 in C minor, Op. 110
  • Notes: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cha (07/24/2010-05/15/2011)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1960

>Myaskovsky, Nikolay : Quartet for Strings no 13 in A minor, Op. 86
  • Notes: Foellinger Great Hall, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cha (07/24/2010-05/15/2011)
  • Running Time: 24 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1949