Shostakovich - String Quartets
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Label: CuGate Classics
Cat No: CGC007
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 23rd October 2015
WorksString Quartet no.3 in F major, op.73
String Quartet no.5 in B flat major, op.92
String Quartet no.7 in F sharp minor, op.108
ArtistsSt Petersburg String Quartet
The three quartets on this album provide insight into the conflict Russian composers had with the doctrine of Socialist Realism. They display how a crisis due to political circumstances can achieve – per aspera ad astrum – new art forms on high levels.
Shostakovich had always regarded himself as a socialist composer. He had delivered so far what was expected from a political artist by the regime: to write easily accessible operas with crowd scenes and huge choirs, preferably on revolutionary subjects, eventually with happy endings and of course instrumental pieces which should convey the spirit of socialism.
And suddenly he fell from grace, over night and adamantly. The regime had recognized violations against the doctrine of Soviet aesthetics in his Opera 'Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District' and banned it from the stage. Until then the opera was hailed after its premiere in 1934 as the first great masterpiece of Socialist Realism.
In this light one has to look at his string quartets. The whole cycle was composed after Lady Macbeth and from there one can recognize a central watershed in Shostakovich’s compositions. They became a private affair from the beginning. Shostakovich had recognized the controllers’ ears of the artistic day-to-day-business were highly focussed on great public works such as operas and symphonies reflecting contemporary issues, free from Formalism, whereas neglecting at the same time the introspective, intimate approach of the chamber music genre.
This prevailing intimate mood shapes the entire cycle of Shostakovich’s 15 quartets, revealing a deep insight into his sensitivities.
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