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 ★★★★

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