Beethoven & Shostakovich - String Quartets | C-AVI AVI8553368

Beethoven & Shostakovich - String Quartets


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Label: C-AVI

Cat No: AVI8553368

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 23rd September 2016



When the “Razumovsky Quartets” started circulating in 1806, Beethoven’s contemporaries shook their heads in disbelief. They were the result of a commission from the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Count Andrey Razumovsky, who was quite agile on the violin himself. We do not know whether the Count was pleased with the quartets; most music connoisseurs, however, were irritated, to say the least. “The conception is profound and the construction excellent, but they are not easily comprehended,” remarked the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung.… “Opus 59 is extremely challenging,” remarks Martin Funda, the leader of the Armida Quartet, “One needs time to grasp these pieces. As performers, we are surprised again and again to note how quickly Beethoven starts leading us into unfamiliar waters. The F major Quartet is an ‘extrovert’ piece; at the same time, it contains a series of incredibly profound moments and a variety of different moods which we have to learn to interpret.”

If Beethoven’s supposedly ‘classical’ Opus 59 quartet is astoundingly challenging and unconventional, Shostakovich’s Opus 118 is surprisingly carefree at first glance – particularly in comparison with his well-known 8th Quartet dedicated “to the victims of fascism and war”, or with the 9th, written during the same period. The 10th, conversely, emerged in a relaxed atmosphere in 1964, during Shostakovich’s stay at the composers’ retreat centre in the Armenian spa town of Dilijan. These were the palmy days of Shostakovich’s career. He found himself showered with awards and recognitions, and rushed from one rehearsal or premičre to the next of his long-banished opera masterpiece Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, acclaimed in a revised version on opera stages from Moscow to Milan and London. With lightness of hand he apparently jotted down this string quartet in a mere eleven days. And yet: the work might be simmering beneath the surface, a tell-tale sign of Shostakovich’s well-known ambiguous stance.

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