BBC Music Magazine
String Quartets Nos 1, 2 & 7 Carducci String Quartet
Signum Records SIGCD559 59:29 mins Having for the first time experienced all 15 Shostakovich quartets live from first to last across a weekend, I found it immensely rewarding to hear different connections between the components the Carduccis have chosen for their second Shostakovich disc.
They’ve presented their own ‘Shostakovich15’ project in concert, so their sequence would have been very carefully made. By placing the first ‘big’ quartet, No. 2, before No. 1, they allow us to hear correspondences which might otherwise be less clear, given the elliptical nature of the composer's seemingly modest series launch, so often misleadingly described as ‘spring-like’. And by ending with the even shorter but powerfully freighted No. 7, they honour the First by showing how economy can be honed still further.
The A major start of this sequence lifts the spirit before it pierces the heart in its incisive tones; Matthew Denton is a supremely cultured violinist, and weaves spellbinding, perfectly intoned magic in the two slow movements. I would have liked cellist Emma Denton to have been a little more mysteriously mercurial in the Second’s eerie waltz, and viola-player Eoin Schmidt-martin more bitingly present in the firstmovement development; and in the beginnings of the shorter quartets, it’s hard to adjust to a
more literal approach after the airborne freedom of the legendary Borodin Quartet performances. But the Seventh especially gathers hypnotic force, always in focus, the payoff of the return to the opening idea as powerful as any I know. These players understand what it’s all about, and the sound is always beautifully honed. David Nice PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★