Author Topic: Shostakovich String Quartets  (Read 122513 times)

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Offline Daverz

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #780 on: March 25, 2022, 04:31:47 PM »
I'm resurrecting this thread. Talking to a student in one of my classes the words Shostakovich 8th came up and I started on about how I loved the 8th symphony until she said, "No, I meant the 8th string quartet" Got home, searched Qobuz and streamed the 8th - wow, this was great stuff. I also sampled some of the others and found the music very approachable. It's always a pleasure to discover new music.

I've read the first half of this thread where many recommendations of complete sets were made - so many that I'm not sure which to eventually stick with.



I really liked the samples of the Decca Borodins



and also listened to some of the Chandos Cycle.


Some of the reading I've done leaves me a little unclear on how many cycles they've done. I know the Chandos is cycle I but is the Decca cycle II or III?

The Decca is the third cycle, with a totally new lineup of players.  Here's a review that discusses the different personnel in the recordings:

http://theclassicalreviewer.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-legendary-borodin-quartet-sign-to.html


Offline JBS

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #781 on: March 25, 2022, 05:21:54 PM »
To further complicate the matter, the Borodin Quarter recorded a partial cycle for EMI, including my favorite recording of the 8th.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #782 on: March 25, 2022, 07:56:30 PM »
I'm resurrecting this thread. Talking to a student in one of my classes the words Shostakovich 8th came up and I started on about how I loved the 8th symphony until she said, "No, I meant the 8th string quartet" Got home, searched Qobuz and streamed the 8th - wow, this was great stuff. I also sampled some of the others and found the music very approachable. It's always a pleasure to discover new music.

I've read the first half of this thread where many recommendations of complete sets were made - so many that I'm not sure which to eventually stick with.



I really liked the samples of the Decca Borodins



and also listened to some of the Chandos Cycle.


Some of the reading I've done leaves me a little unclear on how many cycles they've done. I know the Chandos is cycle I but is the Decca cycle II or III?

The Danel take a very different approach to the cycle but the Borodin's have a certain approach - almost manic - that appeals.

After those first recommendations any others. To give you an idea of how I like my Shosty, my favourite recording of the 8th symphony is the Previn LSO on EMI (not the DGG). The scherzo is so strident and manic yet he gets the other movements to work as well.

The Danel is "Shostakovich-light," it's just not idiomatic. This is my sole cycle regret as I bought it before sampling the later quartets. Borodin II on Melodiya is complete, some intonation issues in their playing compared to the first incomplete cycle, but still well worth having along with the first cycle.

For modern sets Pacifica are excellent.

Now the first string quartet I sample is 8 before deciding if I want to proceed further in a cycle.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 08:06:12 PM by hvbias »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #783 on: March 25, 2022, 10:29:19 PM »
I like the Pacifica as well. Just played their cycle again a few weeks ago.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2022, 05:05:33 AM by The new erato »

Offline hvbias

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #784 on: March 26, 2022, 04:03:14 AM »
One other thing worth mentioning in case sound quality is a concern, I'm almost certain Borodin's first cycle on Chandos is sourced from vinyl and not tape. There are some telltale artifacts, and places where the fidelity drops that points to it being from vinyl.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #785 on: March 26, 2022, 04:45:39 AM »
This might be but I think the late 1970s/early 80s Borodin on Melodiya has not clearly better sound. The older one sounds "warmer" and I'd describe both more as "o.k." for their age than having good sound. If recorded sound is a major concern neither the Chandos nor the BMG/Melodiya are a first choice. I think the sound is not bad enough to distract from the overall quality of the performances.
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Offline DavidW

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #786 on: March 26, 2022, 05:36:17 AM »
+2 on the Pacifica Quartet.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #787 on: March 26, 2022, 07:10:51 AM »
The Danel is..........  Borodin II on Melodiya is complete, some intonation issues in their playing compared to the first incomplete cycle, but still well worth having along with the first cycle.

For modern sets Pacifica are excellent.

I like the Pacifica as well. Just played their cycle again a few weeks ago.

+2 on the Pacifica Quartet.

Agree w/ the above the Pacifica Quartet is my preference; my only other set is Borodin ('78-'83); culled out a couple other sets a few years back.  Dave :)


Offline amw

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #788 on: March 26, 2022, 10:57:55 AM »
My primary reference is the St. Petersburg Quartet (there was a box set for a while but it's gone now, I think). Listened to selected movements from a bunch of different sets before settling on it as my primary one. I liked the Pacificas as well but not enough to buy them; I do also have the Taneyev Quartet, Borodin Quartet III, the Emersons from their cube, and the Sorrel Quartet, which was my second choice during the mass comparison. Plus a few individual recordings.

I do not generally find my own tastes in accordance with the majority of forum-goers in this matter; I don't think Borodin II is that great for example (prefer Borodin I and III, although never acquired the former), and likewise found St. Petersburg and Sorrel, despite occupying opposite ends of the cold-warm polarity, to beat out most of the other competitors in terms of intensity, which is often the very thing people cite as what those two ensembles don't have enough of.

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #789 on: March 26, 2022, 11:28:19 AM »
In addition to these, I  think very highly of the Mandelring Quartett. I spent a great deal of time with the Shostakovich SQs in 2021, and found these really satisfying.
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Offline Holden

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #790 on: March 26, 2022, 02:17:09 PM »
So how do people rate the Borodin III? I have a great sound system attached to my PC and one of the joys of listening to chamber music is hearing the interplay between the members. I like what I hear of the Borodin III but I'll check out the others mentioned here as well and like HVbias I will use the 8th as my initial guide, The Pacifica seems to be the place to start.
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Offline hvbias

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #791 on: March 26, 2022, 04:49:03 PM »
This might be but I think the late 1970s/early 80s Borodin on Melodiya has not clearly better sound. The older one sounds "warmer" and I'd describe both more as "o.k." for their age than having good sound. If recorded sound is a major concern neither the Chandos nor the BMG/Melodiya are a first choice. I think the sound is not bad enough to distract from the overall quality of the performances.

I'm not too concerned about recording quality, my most listened to chamber set of the last couple of weeks was Kolisch Quartet in Schoenberg's four String Quartets, these are recordings from 1936/1937 and there is a ton of surface noise because they didn't use noise reduction. I only mentioned it because I do see people say they are looking for good sounding recordings.

My primary reference is the St. Petersburg Quartet (there was a box set for a while but it's gone now, I think). Listened to selected movements from a bunch of different sets before settling on it as my primary one. I liked the Pacificas as well but not enough to buy them; I do also have the Taneyev Quartet, Borodin Quartet III, the Emersons from their cube, and the Sorrel Quartet, which was my second choice during the mass comparison. Plus a few individual recordings.

I do not generally find my own tastes in accordance with the majority of forum-goers in this matter; I don't think Borodin II is that great for example (prefer Borodin I and III, although never acquired the former), and likewise found St. Petersburg and Sorrel, despite occupying opposite ends of the cold-warm polarity, to beat out most of the other competitors in terms of intensity, which is often the very thing people cite as what those two ensembles don't have enough of.

For myself I can explain not mentioning them by not having heard St. Petersburg, Borodin III, or Sorrel :D . Mandelring were the ones that showed some promise in string quartet 3 but a bit glossy, and lacking in dirt and grit overall. I have Emersons in the cube and have been meaning to find time to hear them.

I think I bought Borodin II because it was the generally held notion to get them to complete Borodin I.

I've sampled St Petersburg and they are very promising. They have a darkness and bleakness in 8, and the grit and intensity for 11, especially in the Elegy which is one of my other benchmarks. Pretty impressive so far. Nice sounding recordings as well, ye olde Russian recordings usually can't bring out that kind of bass in the cello, it adds another dimension to these. 
« Last Edit: March 26, 2022, 04:52:47 PM by hvbias »
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Offline George

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #792 on: March 26, 2022, 05:10:30 PM »
The set I listen to the most is Borodin I on Chandos.

For a Modern set, I like the Danel a lot. I also own Borodin II but like amw, I prefer the earlier set. Since the earlier one is incomplete, it's good to have the second one to fill in the gaps (and to get Richter joining for the piano quintet.)
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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #793 on: March 27, 2022, 03:48:20 AM »
No Fitzwilliam love at all?

Sigh.
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #794 on: March 27, 2022, 04:40:53 AM »
The Sorrels for me.  They don't lack intensity in the slightest.  However their full warm sound will not please everybody, it certainly blunts the 'edge' - an 'edge' which I guess most lovers of this music think is a necessary component.

We did a mini-blind comparison of the 8th some while back - not really enough people taking part, nor a long enough music sample, to be conclusive - but for what it's worth the very clear favourites were the Jerusalem Quartet.  2nd (out of 8 runners and riders) were the Yggdrasil, with the Sorrels 3rd.

There is also a very early recording of the 8th (coupled with the 4th) by the Borodins, from 1962 pre-dating any of their cycles or near-cycles, recorded in Moscow by the Mercury Living Presence team.  As a performance, it's awful, at this time they clearly had not yet fully internalised the music.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2022, 04:47:26 AM by aukhawk »

Offline DavidW

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #795 on: March 27, 2022, 08:25:10 AM »
Agree w/ the above the Pacifica Quartet is my preference; my only other set is Borodin ('78-'83); culled out a couple other sets a few years back.  Dave :)

If you ever want another set, try the Fitzwilliam set.  It was for me the gold standard pre-Pacifica.  And their take on it is different enough to warrant having both.

Offline DavidW

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #796 on: March 27, 2022, 08:25:48 AM »
No Fitzwilliam love at all?

Sigh.

Well I've added to it now.

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #797 on: March 28, 2022, 05:25:54 AM »
No Fitzwilliam love at all?

Sigh.

Indeed I do love this set!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #798 on: March 28, 2022, 06:11:10 AM »
No Fitzwilliam love at all?

Sigh.

They're decent enough, but not a favorite. My favorites are the Borodin (Chandos and Melodiya), Pacifica and Mandelring.
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Offline Spotted Horses

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Re: Shostakovich String Quartets
« Reply #799 on: March 28, 2022, 06:27:42 AM »
No Fitzwilliam love at all?

Sigh.

I regard them very highly.