Shostakovich: Complete String Quartets / Rubio Quartet

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Read full review from earlier release of this complete set of the Shostakovich Complete String Quartets below.

When it comes to this music, how the quartet plays technically is just as important as what it does interpretively, and I very much like the way that the Rubio Quartet plays. Unlike so many groups in this music, they never hack or slash their way through the more violent moments, always maintaining excellent balances, smooth legato, and a warm tone. Combine this with lively tempos throughout, and the result achieves all of the necessary intensity without ugliness or distortion, realizing the composer’s intentions far more effectively than many a more rough and edgy approach. The result may well appeal to Shostakovich fans who respect rather than love these pieces (and I know that there are many), finding concentrated listening to four strings perpetually in extremis something of an ordeal (at least as compared to the symphonies, with their wider range of contrasts).

This emphasis on the classical virtues of fine chamber music playing means that those famous “crazy” moments, such as the second movement of the Eighth Quartet, erupt naturally and sound well-placed in their context with no loss of excitement, while the gentler passages in the First and Seventh Quartets, or the opening of the Fourth, are notably lovely and full of feeling. In the late quartets (Nos. 12-15) the Rubio’s emphasis on lyricism goes far toward making the music’s bleakness and dark emotional demeanor more palatable (and consequently more expressively direct) than many less ingratiating interpretations. Very natural recorded sound, happily not too close to the players, ideally complements the ensemble’s approach. You can find more gut-wrenching versions of these works (the Borodin Quartet, for example), but this set does the music full justice while also placing it within the great quartet tradition to which Shostakovich so often pays homage. An excellent achievement and a tremendous bargain.

– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 01, 2019

  • UPC: 5028421960470

  • Catalog Number: BRI96047

  • Label: Brilliant Classics

  • Number of Discs: 5

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Rubio Quartet